Lori opened Quilter’s Corner, in Faulkton, S.D. in August of 2009. Lori grew up in rural South Dakota and developed a passion for quilting shortly after marrying her husband, Kurt, 31 years ago. She and her husband have owned and operated a cattle ranch for over 30 years and in 1997 added a hunting lodge to the business. After working for several years at a quilt shop in Aberdeen, S.D., her dream came true in 2009 when she opened Quilter’s Corner and her vision of “someday” moving to a larger location became a reality in spring 2011. Quilter’s Corner is quickly becoming a destination shop with many customers traveling 50+ miles to share their enthusiasm for quilting and provide overwhelming support for a small-town, local business.
The Dakota Rising Entrepreneur Fellowship drives the Dakota Rising system. When interested in a fellowship, entrepreneurs who are supported by a Site submit an Intent to Apply, which activates connections to a variety of resources. Value is added to the entrepreneur at every step of the selection process. This results in a complex system that nurtures a pool of entrepreneurial talent, cultivates existing entrepreneurs, networks resources and builds ongoing community support.
There are three steps of the selection process before being awarded a Fellowship: Intent to Apply, Applicant and Finalist. Each of these levels, and those awarded a Fellowship, have:
- Been recognized as adding value to their communities.
- Connected with the local development community.
- Been introduced and have the potential to form ongoing relationships with local, regional and statewide resources.
- Written professional and business growth plans.
Finalists, in addition to the above benefits, are also paired with a mentor who are involved in their industry. Finalists are mentored to improve their business plans, which are then submitted and reviewed by the Fellows Selection Committee.
When chosen as a Fellow, each entrepreneur makes a three-year commitment and receives $10,000 for professional and business development, as outlined in the entrepreneur’s Fellowship Plan. The greatest value of the Fellowship is the peer support available from each entrepreneur’s four-member Cohort, comprised of other Fellows and a Cohort mentor, which meets every two months to review each other’s progress toward specific goals.
Since 2009, three classes of Fellows have been selected, totaling 22 entrepreneurs. Nineteen are still engaged in the Fellowship. Those 19 Fellows have reported in aggregate:
- Assets increased by 30%
- Revenues increased by 605%
- Turned a six-figure loss into a seven-figure gain
- Fellows generated an 82% increase in number of full-time employees earning over $13.93/hour (South Dakota rural living wage)
- 40 new full-time positions were created 14 permanent part-time positions
Faulkton, SD 57438