Growing for business success

Published 6:01 pm Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Vision 2020 Business Friendly Environment committee is working to improve Austin’s economy, raise the median income and fully leverage the strength of our business community for more growth and success.

Some programs focus on assisting major employers in attracting and retaining top talent. Some programs focus on equipping local business owners — and those interested in becoming business owners — for success.

The Austin Area Business Forum is one tool available to small business owners in the area.

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The Austin Area Business Forum (AABF) offers free education sessions each month with a focus on topics that small business owners need to master such as marketing, promotions, technology, legal and human resource issues and financing growth. Larger businesses often have staff or whole departments dedicated to these topics. The AABF helps small business owners gain skills and connect to experts in these areas.

The next session of the AABF is at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 18, at the Pizza Ranch. The speaker is Nicole Feltault. Ms. Feltault is an attorney with Farrish Johnson Law Office CHTD in Mankato. She volunteers to assist small businesses through the Minnesota LegalCorps. Ms. Feltault will present information on mitigating small business liability.

The AABF meets every third Tuesday at the Pizza Ranch where attendees can choose to purchase their own lunch buffet or just attend the meeting. The presentation starts at promptly at noon and concludes at 1 p.m. There is no need to RSVP. If you would like to be added to the email list for the monthly AABF events, send email to

The AABF also offers local entrepreneurs a forum to network and connect with other entrepreneurs. Typical attendees include solo-preneurs, owners of retail, restaurant and service businesses, home-based or online-only businesses, serial entrepreneurs and those interested in starting a business. All are welcome.

Finally, the AABF offers access to services in our area such as SCORE at the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Development Corporation of Austin and loan services through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

The coordinator of the AABF is Mark Thein. Mark is also a business consultant with the Small Business Development Center. He works with Austin clients to provide a variety of free business consulting including: business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, disaster recovery assistance, procurement and contracting aid, market research help, program support, and healthcare guidance. Contact Mark at 507-459-3060 or or contact the Development Corporation of Austin at 507-433-9495 for more information.