KREWE Restaurant Opens in St. Joseph with Minnesota SBDC Assistance

June 30, 2020

Success Story: Minnesota

KREWE Opening
L-R: Brianna Knowles and Devin Larson (Minnwest Bank), Mateo Mackbee and Erin Lucas (KREWE owners and chefs), and Berny Berger (Minnesota SBDC)

Experienced restaurant owners and chefs Mateo Mackbee and Erin Lucas will be opening their much anticipated New Orleans cuisine restaurant, “KREWE,” at 24 North College Avenue in St. Joseph on July 1st. Mateo and Erin will specialize in their Creole and Cajun dishes from Mackbee’s food heritage, which is rooted in his mother’s hometown of New Orleans.

The menu will feature a variety of dishes that hearken back to The Big Easy, like muffuletta, jambalaya, and gumbo from family recipes, and shrimp raised locally in Minnesota. Erin operates their partner business – Flour and Flower, a European style bakery, which opened May 21st, located next to KREWE at 26 College Avenue North. (more…)

Integrity Martial Arts: Staying in Business and Fulfilling Service to Customers

June 16, 2020

Success Story: Connecticut

Integrity Martial Arts is a martial arts studio in Enfield, Connecticut that’s having a big impact on its students. Respect, self-control, and discipline — these are the founding principles owner Jonathan Metcalf teaches the young people who are enrolled in his classes.

Jonathan began working with CTSBDC advisor Denise Whitford in 2016, and since then he has been able to successfully grow his business through her advice, support, and guidance. Anticipating the state-mandated closure of non-essential businesses due to COVID-19, Integrity Martial Arts immediately shifted to serving its customers online. Click To Tweet In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic, the business has been able to maintain its customer base and find new opportunities to keep growing.

“Working with Jonathan has afforded me a dynamic view of his business challenges and opportunities,” stated Denise. “Yet when the impacts of COVID-19 forced him to close the doors for the safety of his instructors and his clients, he immediately pivoted his classes to a virtual setting. Although working in a virtual setting was not a new path for him, converting his martial arts studio was definitely outside the box.” (more…)

Transportation and Event Company Planning to Ride Out Virus Disruption

June 2, 2020

Success Story: Arkansas –

Arkansas Destinations owner Jana Cohen can point to the exact day the coronavirus pandemic disrupted her business.

“On March 12 all bookings for bus tours, events, and incoming travel cancelled or postponed. That was the last day we ran a trip,” said Cohen.

“Overnight, half of our business disappeared, and we had customers asking for money back from deposits they had made.”Eileen Devereux Dailey of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center advised Cohen as she applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or EIDL. Click To Tweet

In business since 2000, Cohen’s Little Rock-based company offers tours and event planning, primarily for convention groups. She also operates a fleet of mini buses, trolleys, motor coaches, and vans. (more…)

Auto repair business gets federal loan with SBDC assistance

May 19, 2020

Success Story: Georgia. By Emilie Gille –

ATC Auto CenterATC Auto Center in Augusta has been in business since 1972, with a second location in Grovetown added later. Brothers Brian and Chris Weeks own and operate the auto repair business they took over from their father nearly 20 years ago.

They’ve built a good clientele over the years and have 21 employees.

It all was threatened by COVID-19. Business slowed as Georgia residents sheltered in place, and businesses closed. The brothers realized that their savings would only last so long, and they didn’t want to lay off employees. But they knew that’s where they were headed.

“We worked too hard for too long to get the team that we have, and we didn’t want to have anything happen to them,” said Brian Weeks.

As longtime clients of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, the Weeks were among the local businesses that UGA public service faculty member Eric Frickey reached out to when the federal government approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included money for small businesses. (more…)

Military Spouse Turns Idea Into Fully Baked Business

May 4, 2020

It starts with an idea – that “Aha!” moment when you realize your business concept has the potential to be great. But it takes work, dedication and commitment to make that idea a reality. Entrepreneurs with military experience – whether service members, veterans or military spouses – are uniquely positioned to succeed as small business owners.

Jilan Hall-Johnson is a military spouse who used her experience and skills to turn her bruncherie idea into a fully baked business. After her husband, DeMarco Johnson, was stationed in Billings, Montana as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, she was on the hunt for new employment opportunities in the area. Assistance for military spouse employment in Billings was limited, so she decided she was ready to explore entrepreneurship as the next step in her career.

Jilan knew she had a great idea, and the passion and drive to be a small business owner. But she wasn’t sure how to start her business. She decided to turn to her local Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at Big Sky Economic Development for guidance and support. Jilan and the Big Sky VBOC immediately began working together to put her business idea on paper. The VBOC helped her develop her business plan, establish a marketing strategy, acquire a business location, find access to capital, and accomplish so much more right in her local community. (more…)