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New ideas for local business

A new business climate calls for new ideas.

The Center for Research and Innovation's Headwaters Business Success Seminar will provide small and mid-sized business owners and managers will a full day of resources and ideas to develop and grow local business.

"We picked presentations that really and truly will fit the audience ... We tried to put together a really practical daylong seminar for anyone that would attend," said Brian Matthews, business services consultant with the CRI. "Time still is money; losing a day is hard for people, but we think it will be well worth it. Hopefully some people will walk out of there with ideas they didn't have before."

The seminar, set for 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the New City Ballroom, 2300 24th St. N.W., will cover marketing, finance and human resource issues, with successful local entrepreneurs Keith Johanneson and Mike Smith giving their insights into how to compete effectively and proper in today's challenging economic climate.

Johanneson, president of Johanneson's Inc., will give a presentation on "Facing the New Reality of Business" at 8:15 a.m.

"It's easy to retreat into a shell and be conservative, but there are still opportunities out there," Matthews said. "At some point we'll be coming out of this downturn and you want to be able to take advantage of opportunities."

Competing Against 'Lowest Price'" will be presented at 2 p.m. by Smith, owner of MJB Home Appliance.

"He's in a business where he sells a higher-quality product and probably can't buy as well as some of the big boxes out there," Matthews said. "A lot of people run up against that. How do you compete against somebody when you can't possibly meet that price? It's very difficult for a small business."

A panel discussion on small business finance will feature Jodi Schroeder of First National Bank Bemidji, Terry Matson of Security BankUSA, Scott Kurtzweg of TruStar Federal and Dave West of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.

Other presentations will include:

- Dave Heilig, marketing professor at Bemidji State University, "Gut Check Marketing 101," 9:30 a.m.

- "Setting Up Internships Through BSU," Margie Thomas Giauque, director of Career Services, BSU, 10:30 a.m.

- "Selling to the Government: Basics of Government Procurement," Arlette Abrahamson, Northern Minnesota Area manager, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, 11:15 a.m.

- "Trends in Employment and Wages," Nate Dorr, regional analyst, Department of Employment and Economic Development.

- "Putting It All Together," Jess Evenson, regional manager, State Farm Agency field office, 3:45 p.m.

The seminar will include a lunch break and three other 15-minute breaks, as well as a networking hour from 4-5 p.m. Informational booths will provide resources and further networking opportunities.

"There's a lot of opportunity for networking," Matthews said. "We want to keep people there. We want attendees to be speaking to each other and the presenter."

"We haven't done a lot of seminars like this one, but we have done a lot of seminars," said Anthony Schaffhauser, executive director of the CRI. "It's consistent that the networking time is so valuable. That needs to be built in."

Lunch and refreshments will be included in the $49 fee.

"It's an awful lot of useful information that will help businesses be successful for 49 bucks," Schaffhauser said.

"A lot of businesses are in survival mode right now," he said. "The reason most are in survival mode right now isn't their own fault. It's just that the economy's tanked. ... Survival mode is necessary, but there's got to be some time focused on strategy as well ."

Local involvement makes the seminar relevant to local businesses and provides a continuum of resources.

"The local connection to it is pretty key - we didn't come up with this all on our own," Matthews said, explaining that the CRI looked to the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce and other sponsors for input.

"It's not just want you learn while you're there or what thoughts it stimulates for business success," Schaffhauser said. "It's also an opportunity to learn what resources are available. Now you have a connection to more of that."

In addition to the Chamber, other sponsors are Northwest Technical College, First National Bank Bemidji, Security BankUSA, Bemidji State University, TruStar Federal Credit Union, and Johanneson's Inc.

For more information or to register, call the CRI at 755-4900 or visit