FAN (Freshman Academy Network) Coaches – Get Connected

The Alexandria Area High School (AAHS) is seeking FAN Coaches for the upcoming school year, which is less than a month away, craziness! What is a FAN Coach? The mission of the FAN Coach program is to connect community leaders with 9th-grade students in the efforts to reinforce skill development and a commitment to education. As a FAN Coach, you encourage positive life choices that enable them to maximize their personal potential. Take the opportunity to build a connection with students, they are the pipeline for future workforce. Each coach is paired with a small group of freshman that they will meet with throughout the semester. What kind of time commitment are we asking? In the last week of August, you will participate in a training that will get you prepared for your small group. Then two meetings each month throughout September to December for one hour each. Sign up with Abby Strom at the AAEDC or Claire Anderson, AAHS Academy Coach Start connecting today.

starting your own business

Building A Business Plan

One of the first steps in a new venture is the development of a business plan. The business plan describes the product or service, market, people and financing needs.

A well-prepared business plan serves several purposes:

  • For the new business, it helps the owner determine the feasibility and desirability of pursuing the steps necessary to start a business.
  • For the company seeking financing, it is an important sales tool for raising capital from outside sources.
  • For an existing company, the business plan forms the basis of a more detailed operational plan and thus becomes an important management tool for monitoring the growth of the firm and charting future directions.

A business plan should cover these five areas:

  1. Business Summary: The summary should be a brief, concise work that provides the reader with a good understanding of the entire business venture. It should cover – executive summary, objectives, mission statement and keys to success.
  2. Company Summary: It commonly includes a general description of the business, including the product or service and may describe the historical development of the business, company profile, location, legal structure, ownership, and business structure.
  3. The Product or Service: This is a detailed description of product or service lines, including the relative importance of each product or service to the company. Include pricing analysis if possible.
  4. Marketing Plan: Identify principal markets, run a market analysis, and complete an overall strategy for the business.
  5. Financials: This starts with providing name and address of key advisors, including auditor, legal counsel, and banker. Then providing financial statements and projections for next two to three years, which include: Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement.

To request a copy of our “Small Business Booklet”, please contact the AAEDC today!

Alexandria Area High School, Future Workforce

Partnership Doing Something Remarkable for Students & Community

When the talk of the new Alexandria Area High School (AAHS) was starting a few years ago, the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) never wondered if we could help in any way, it was always – how can we help? The answer was found with my position as the community and workforce development coordinator. This position was incorporated into an existing one, to form a unique partnership with the school district. My role within the AAEDC allows me to help coordinate community resources to enhance authentic learning experiences for students.

The community has always and continues to play a big role in the success of the school and the students, but this new partnership benefits those involved in a number of different ways. Through my position as the community and workforce development coordinator, I get the chance to connect with community resources and witness the overwhelming amount of support this community puts forth. The students get the chance to listen and engage with guest speakers that are relevant to their chosen academy and hear about potential career paths.

Community members who volunteer to be mentors offer field experiences and job shadowing opportunities are given the chance to make a difference in a student’s life. Instructional guides also come into the high school to work closely with students, and all staff is given the chance to participate in externships. Without the help of the Alexandria community, none of these career exploration opportunities would be possible.

The Academy model that AAHS has implemented prepares students for their future, whether they continue their education or step directly out into the workforce. Ultimately, the partnership the AAEDC has formed with AAHS benefits our organization, the school district, and the Alexandria community, by building a pipeline for future workforce in the area.

For example, AAHS, 3M, and the AAEDC have teamed up to put on an upcoming event called Smart Girls Rock! Through this event, we are hoping to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math by giving them the opportunity to be mentored by women in those fields that are statistically held by men.

I am also working with the high school to put on a Career Expo for freshmen students at AAHS and surrounding schools: Brandon/Evansville, Sauk Centre, and Osakis. Businesses in the community are invited to attend this event to share with the students what the Alexandria area has to offer.

AAHS would not have these opportunities to offer their students if it wasn’t for the support from the Alexandria community. We are always looking for more volunteers to share their careers and experiences with students, so if you are interested, please contact me at (320) 763-4545.

I am excited and fortunate to be a part of this unique partnership with the AAHS and making these connections with community members. The opportunities and new experiences the students are able to explore will give them the chance to find a career they are passionate about. This partnership is doing something remarkable for our students and community.

Annual Meeting, Economic Development

What Is Economic Development?

It can be an intangible concept that is hard to explain. The book definition takes a policy perspective: economic development is the efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

When I’m asked what it is that an Economic Development Organization (EDO) actually does, I explain that there is isn’t a typical “one size fits all” approach that I can point to. We all assist in developing vibrant communities and creating high-quality jobs, but there is no single strategy, policy or program used for achieving successful economic development.

For example, an EDO can service a city, county, region or state – our Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission provides services to all of Douglas County. The services an EDO provides also vary by organization. One organization may focus heavily on workforce development while another may look largely at downtown development and revitalization. The AAEDC has a number of programs that help market the entire region to attract new businesses, as well as assist in retaining and expanding the businesses that currently reside here.

One way we do that is by being an information clearinghouse. We have a library of demographic information, and for the public to better access it, our office puts out the annual Lakes Area Fact Book. This publication provides a demographic and statistical overview of Douglas County. Data within this publication is gathered from a wide variety of sources and is compiled to provide a detailed community profile. The data is used not only by prospective companies looking to move to the area but also by local businesses who are undergoing strategic planning or retooling their current programs and projects.

We also work with entrepreneurs in all aspects of their journey to start and grow a business. If you have an idea for a business start–up and are unsure of the steps to make it happen, our office can assist you. AAEDC services are completely confidential and provided free of charge to the businesses and residents of Douglas County. We also partner with other entities to be a full-service stop – the West Central Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultants will meet with entrepreneurs and small business owners during this time and provide cost-free, confidential consulting and assistance services.

If you are looking for financial assistance, we have a Revolving Loan Fund Program that supplies small businesses and entrepreneurs with the gap financing needed to start or expand their business. Revolving Loan Funds (RLF’s) have become an increasingly popular business financing tool because of the ability to leverage public and private dollars, as well as the bonus of recycling these funds within a community. As the RLF receives the principal and interest from outstanding loans, the money is made available to another borrower. RLF funds are available to businesses within Douglas County.

Through our many programs and services, the AAEDC focuses on job creation, community investment and improving the quality of life. We have a number of tools available to assist you as your business develops and grow. If you have a business idea or question, or any questions about the area, please contact our office. Our services are free and confidential and we would love to help you.

starting your own business

Business Opportunity: AAHS CAPS Partnership