Frequently Used Resources
Small Business Development Centers & More
Our local SBDCs are often one of the first referrals we make for things like business planning, financial forecasting, market research and more. Our regional North Dakota office is at the NDSU Research Park. The Minnesota office is on the campus of Concordia College. In addition to the SBDCs, our local SCORE office has volunteer mentors to help entrepreneurs talk through their ideas and plans, and the ND Women’s Business Center has a Fargo office to help provide programs to support entrepreneurs from business start-up to expansion through a variety of services and resources. The above guidance is often taken and utilized to visit with local SBA partners for early financing needs – Dakota Business Lending and Lake Agassiz Development Group.
State Entrepreneur Grants
New startups in North Dakota may apply for Innovate ND which not only provides opportunities for entrepreneurial assistance and mentorship, but also enables the startups to access up to $40,000 in funds through a combination of reimbursements and grants.
In Minnesota, innovative and scalable technology businesses may apply for Launch Minnesota grants for business operation expenses (max. $35,000 match), housing/childcare expenses (max. $7,500 match), and SBIR-STTR Phase 2 (max. $50,000).
Otherwise, for the most part, “small business grants” can be somewhat of a myth. Occasionally, you may come across something, but most often they will be very niche for eligiblity and very competitive. Hello Alice is one example of an online resource that may share grants every so often.
ND Development Fund/Bank of North Dakota
ND entrepreneurs have the advantage of the funding possibilities provided by ND Development Fund and the nation’s only state-owned financial institution, Bank of North Dakota. ND Development Fund provides gap financing through loans and equity investments not available from most conventional lenders. Bank of North Dakota has been an agile partner with lenders. They reduce exposure on financing early-stage companies as well as established businesses.
Other programs (funding; job; tax) sometimes accessed by our entrepreneurs can be found on our Site Selection/Relocate/Expand section.
The LIFT program has been very popular since being created in late 2019. This is an innovation loan fund to support technology advancement by providing financing for commercialization of intellectual property within the state of North Dakota. A LIFT loan is unsecured financing that includes 0% interest for 3 years, 2% for the next two years, and then a rate equal to the standard Bank of North Dakota rate after that.
Learning, Validating and Refining
You’ll find access to various programs, trainings and webinars in our region. For one-off events and webinars, we suggest looking at the Techstars Startup Digest Fargo, as each issue will feature upcoming opportunities.
The ILT Academy continues to expand their programming into our region, as well as offer online access. Their main startup program is a 10 week interactive, immersive series of virtual classes where participants (of any age) learn to leverage world-class tools, innovation techniques, and practice key concepts in the Lean Startup methodology.
A Space to Work
If you are ready for traditional office space, there are a wide variety of local realtors to assist you. However, if you’re more in the stage for short-term space, we can connect you with places like Railyard Offices, Regus, NDSU RTP Incubator, Regional Small Business Center or other great spaces. The NDSU RTP Incubator building is also home to the NDSU Innovation Studio makerspace.
While formal resource programs can help startups progress faster, everyone here agrees that the personal connections you will make through the ecosystem providers and peer-to-peer discussions are invaluable. We’ll assist with that but you may also look to many local opportunities to engage.