SoMNSourceLink, a new web site and hotline referral network for entrepreneurs and small business owners in southern Minnesota, launched last week. SoMNSourceLink, in which the Spring Valley EDA is participating in, helps individuals find local resource partners who provide services to help small businesses grow and prosper at no cost to the user.

Found at www.somnsourcelink.com or by phone at 1-855-264-7914, users can input information about the challenges their business is facing. SoMNSourceLink's network navigators research the best area resources to help meet those challenges and provide appropriate referrals to the small business owner. SoMNSourceLink's network navigators follow up with all individuals who access the network to assess progress and troubleshoot persisting challenges.

The SoMNSourceLink network has enrolled over 30 nonprofit organizations that provide services to grow small businesses in southern Minnesota and continues to add more. These organizations include small business development groups, government entities, loan programs, chambers of commerce, community development organizations, technical or legal assistance providers, organizations specializing in helping women and minorities, and others.

Funded through grants from the Blandin Foundation, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, and AgStar Financial Services, with administrative support from the University of Minnesota Rochester, SoMNSourceLink's launch last week brings to life the collaborative work that will help business owners and entrepreneurs find help when they need it in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota.

The SoMNSourceLink launch took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), a world-wide celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth, and expand human welfare. The Spring Valley Economic Development Authority (EDA) observed Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 12 to 16 and is a contributing partner to SourceLink.

Spring Valley economic development director Cathy Enerson attended the Source Link launch on Tuesday, Nov. 13. During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national, and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors - introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities.

The initiative kicked off in 2008, launched by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, the president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since then, it has grown to 115 countries - with nearly 24,000 partner organizations planning more than 37,000 activities that directly engage more than 7 million people.

But GEW is more than just an awareness campaign supported by world leaders and celebrity entrepreneurs. It is about unleashing ideas and doing what it takes to bring them to life - spotting opportunities, taking risks, solving problems, being creative, building connections, and learning from both failure and success, said Enerson. It is about thinking big and making a mark on the world - doing good while doing well at the same time, she added.

"The Spring Valley EDA has been working diligently over the years to provide a community and business friendly environment for entrepreneurs," said Enerson. "New business, business start ups and those businesses that receive awards are touched by the EDA through a certificate of recognition. This is an ongoing recognition of their importance in the business community."

With so many new jobs in entrepreneurial economies coming from firms less than five years old, it is not surprising that leaders around the world are looking to reinvigorate their economies by focusing on ways to stimulate new firm formation., she noted.

"Our EDA participation in the SoMNSourceLink project is one of the ways we actively share what we have to offer with those who are working to grow their businesses. The city of Spring Valley is proud to recognize our entrepreneurs and small business people whose hard work and efforts are pivotal in keeping our community strong and growing," said Enerson.