Winona has wonderful opportunities to start a small business. With its picturesque location, surrounded by bluffs, rivers, and its downtown architecture, Winona is a historic river town that is once again destined for greatness.
Seeds for growth have already been planted with the Great River Shakespeare Festival, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, and the ever growing arts scene, including Theatre du Mississippi, the Winona Arts Center, the Frozen River Film Festival, and the Marine Art Museum. All of these fantastic attractions bring people to our city, and there is room for more seeds to be planted.
Winona's universities offer a population explosion from fall through spring. The natural surroundings bring tourists in for biking, hiking, fishing, canoeing, boating, hunting, snowmobiling and other outdoor activities. All of this is great for small business.
Small businesses benefit from the amazing amount of industry in our community. These industries relocate many families from other communities. These families contribute to a diverse and expanding town. All of these people need places to eat, shop and live. With the high gas prices we've seen in the past few years, more and more people are shopping locally. The greater the variety of restaurants and shops in Winona, the less people will need to spend their money in other communities. With more money in this community, more tax revenue is generated for schools and programs that can better the Winona area.
For people considering starting a small business, Winona has endless amounts of resources and support available. Many local banks with small business programs are willing to lend money. And because many of the banks are rooted in Winona, they are willing to work closely with individuals on lending options. Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical has a Small Business Center that can answer questions about starting a business, such as business plans and financial statements needed to take to the banks. They can also set you up with a retired business owner who mentors you through the process. The Chamber of Commerce offers classes and seminars a few times a year on starting a business in Winona. Local banks also offer free classes on starting a business or improving existing businesses for ongoing support.
My small business, Blooming Grounds, has been successful because of the combination of all these factors. The families that live in Winona that support the coffee shop on a daily basis and the amount of people who work downtown who need coffee, lunch or a snack in the afternoon are the foundation of my business. The tourists give my business an added boost in the summer and the students at the universities give it a boost in the fall through spring. There are so many different types of groups to support business in our area, which is why I have been successful.
Winona has the best of both worlds: small town feel with large industries and universities to support small business. The Winona area offers opportunities that generate a plethora of ideas for small businesses, and we are lucky to have many people willing to help you open the doors.
Amy Jo Marks is the owner of Blooming Grounds