In the Know column: Advice for starting a small business

Starting a small business is not easy — wouldn’t everyone own their own business if it was?

EP In The Know
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By Nicole Fernholz

Small Business Association Administrator Guzman announced that National Small business Week will kick off at the end of April with an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. The first-time meeting in person since 2019, the ceremony will honor national award winners and recognize them for their achievements.

National Small Business Week is held from April 30 to May 6 and is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to recognize the nation's top small businesses, entrepreneurs, and champions. Every day they're working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America's global competitiveness.

In Douglas County, there are approximately 1,400 companies who have created over 20,400 jobs. Last year alone, there were over 300 new businesses started in Douglas County. Two thirds of our labor for those companies come from within the county, with the remaining labor coming from surrounding counties. Our county is a net importer of labor, meaning we bring more labor into our county than we send out.

Starting a small business is not easy — wouldn’t everyone own their own business if it was? There are so many stumbling blocks that entrepreneurs need to overcome in that journey. Often, one of those first blocks is access to capital.


Many entrepreneurs need funds to start or expand their small business, combining what they have with other sources of financing. Our office can help with that! We always recommend that you start the conversation with your local bank — someone who you have a relationship with. After that conversation, our office can step in to assist with any financial shortfall the project may have.

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 (RLFs) 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, and loans can be made up to $75,000 through our office.

Another resource that our office offers is free and confidential business coaching. Completely free delivered to you on your time. Our coaches can lead you through many of the questions you have about business ownership, and if they don’t have the answer, they’ll find the connection you need. Go to our website to sign up for the free coaching.

There are a variety of activities that our office performs in Douglas County to ensure positive economic development. You can find so much information on our website: Our tools involve site selection for developers, workforce development resources, infrastructure and business finance, attraction and retention, community development and much more.

If you have a business idea, or any questions about the area, please contact our office at 763.4545. Our services are free and confidential, and we would love to help you in your entrepreneurial journey.

Nicole Fernholz is the director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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