October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and there has been significant progress relating to women and entrepreneurship. In 1972, women owned 4.6% of all businesses in the U.S. Today, women own 42% of all businesses. Nationally, women-owned businesses have grown 21% over the last five years, compared to a 9% growth rate for all other businesses. According to the West Central MN Small Business Development Center (SBDC), as of June 2019, 42% of their small business clients were women. When talking about diversity, women of color own 50% of all businesses.

Fergus Falls is proud to have countless female entrepreneurs who have chosen us to locate their business! From clothing retailers and coffee shops, to larger manufacturers who are generating an economic impact through direct and induced jobs, consumer expenditures and supporting the local tax base.

Aura Fabricators, located in Fergus Falls and Dalton, is a local manufacturer that is both woman and minority-owned. They manufacture anything from steel bridges and other structural steel components to ornamental metal work. They employ 48 people and have been in their Fergus Falls location since August 2017.

President and Greater Fergus Falls Board member Jasmine Sonmor says, “Owning and operating a business is never an easy venture. However, true entrepreneurs know that you must take these challenges head on and realize that the trials are never forever. It’s an indescribable feeling of accomplishment when you achieve your goals despite all of the obstacles; and in reality, no matter the outcome you’ll ultimately be stronger and wiser because of it.”

Another woman-owned business that is familiar with community members is owned by Stephanie Ellingson Dykhoff — The Bric, a women’s clothing and home decor store in downtown Fergus Falls. Dykhoff says “I saw a need for a women’s apparel store and eventually expanded to include gifts and home decor. It is fun to see projects succeed and learn from those that don’t go as planned. It’s been a great experience to work with other local businesses to create events that bring people into our community. I love owning a business in small-town America!”

The Bric has been located in Fergus Falls since March 2015 and has reported a 40% growth rate over the past year, due to the closures of some of the larger big box stores in our community.

Both of these women send a powerful message, that owning a business can be done and it can be done in a big way. They both own businesses in Fergus Falls, with secondary locations in the surrounding area. One has overcome diversity and pursued a STEM-related career path, while the other has managed a major comeback after the loss of business due to a fire.

GFF executive assistant, NeTia Bauman says “We are privileged to have the opportunity to work with countless gifted female entrepreneurs; some you may know and others are up-and-coming. From catering and handmade goods to those making inroads into sectors that, in the past, have been dominated by male counterparts, today’s businesswomen are forging a strong pathway to success and we are excited to be a part of that journey.”

If you’ve ever considered entrepreneurship, now is the time. If you have a general interest or specific questions on how to get started, contact Greater Fergus Falls at 218-321-2079.

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