Aisha Wadud and Crystal Larson, veteran massage therapists who live in north Minneapolis, plan to move their Nura Holistic Massage & Bodywork this spring from the south side to the just-opened Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) business incubator at 1011 W. Broadway Av.
The space is larger, more economical and they will get assistance on marketing and management from on-site business consultant Stephen Obayuwana.
Nura will join several other small enterprises, including a home health care firm, fashion boutique, and tax preparers , who rent varying spaces for up to $400 per month, or as little as $10 a day to drop in and use a desk, technology and support services at the north side’s first collaborative workspace for fledgling businesses, consultants and “solopreneurs.”
This looks like another significant development in the building-by-building commercial comeback of W. Broadway, the main commercial artery through the heart of the north side.
“We’re creating an environment for young business to thrive, grow and, maybe move to their own storefront one day,” said Marcus Owens, 35, the president of NEON and a veteran of TCF Bank and Target. “There is a lot of opportunity in this neighborhood, and we want people who live here today to be part of the development.”
Low-cost business incubators with shared administrative services, conference rooms and technology, have proved critical to keeping down the high rate of failure among fledgling emerging businesses that often are overwhelmed by rent, slow revenue growth, lack of insightful mentors and first-time mistakes. And Owens, who served on NEON’s board before becoming executive director last year, is a credible guy to lead the effort. A star athlete and North High graduate, Owens has corporate experience, lives in the neighborhood and is close to earning an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.
Owens also is fulfilling the longtime vision of Dr. John Williams, the late north side dentist and University of Minnesota football star.
The business center is located in a refurbished building owned by his family and which housed his dental practice for more than 25 years. Williams, an advocate for W. Broadway revitalization, long envisioned a such a business incubator for entrepreneurs. Williams, who died unexpectedly at 66 in 2012, was a visionary and business recruiter for the neighborhood, particularly among minority business owners.
His widow, Barbara Butts Williams, worked with NEON to renovate the street-level location into a bright, well-appointed floor of offices and open space, complete with a small kitchen and conference rooms.
A reception, featuring north side artwork and musicians, officially will inaugurate the space this week.
“We need small business owners, building-by-building, and I’m excited about the business incubator,” said DeAnna Cummings, the 20-year executive director of nearby Juxtaposition Arts on W. Broadway that has grown to four refurbished buildings and employs 100 or so artists, students, designers, architects and other creatives. “In my opinion, the kind of development that’s going to be sustainable and have long-lived impact will be in cooperation with the community and current business owners. It’s rooted in local people passionate about north Minneapolis.
“The fact that we’re 100 percent full is indication that W. Broadway can sustain more development.”
Indeed, within several blocks a kitchen incubator has spawned the successful Breaking Bread restaurant. An Anytime Fitness club was opened by W. Broadway chiropractor Tara Watson. Sherman Associates is underway with an $8 million redevelopment of a decade-vacant former car dealership at “800 W. Broadway” that will house a NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, a new north Minneapolis Workforce Center and assorted retailers.
Several rental housing developments on or near W. Broadway, as well as other commercial ventures, also are underway.
Bridgewater snaps up Orono’s First National
Bridgewater Bank, which raised $15 million in private equity last fall, is putting an unspecified portion of that money to use.
The Bloomington-based bank has a definitive agreement, subject to regulatory approval, to acquire Orono-based First National Bank of the Lakes.
The deal for four-office, $76 million-asset First National Bank of the Lakes will provide Bridgewater, which loans mostly to businesses, a larger footprint in Minneapolis and the western suburbs.
The deal also will put Bridgewater, one of the largest community banks in the state, over $1 billion in assets.
First National was owned for more than 50 years by the family of Chairman David Delaney.
Ten-year-old Bridgewater is led by CEO Jerry Baack, who said he is “excited to witness the incremental benefits this partnership will generate for shareholders and clients.”
Bridgewater focuses on real estate and small-business entrepreneurs.
The minority stake in Bridgewater was made last year by equity investor Castle Creek of San Diego, which has invested more than $2 billion in banks and other financial services firms since 1992.
Baack was a federal bank examiner and lender at other banks before starting Bridgewater.
Solve had great 2015 in local ad trade
Veteran ad agency executive John Colasanti, who founded Solve with four partners in 2011, continues to build business as a local independent agency.
Colasanti, who once ran Carmichael Lynch, reports that revenue was up about 50 percent to $7 million last year.
Solve added 12 employees to complete 2015 with 42 people.
Colasanti said he didn’t lose any existing clients and won new business from Green Giant, PepsiCo, Shopko, LeMond cycling and Founders Brewing Company.
It was also nice to keep existing business from the likes of Bentley and Porsche in the Solve garage.
“We’re off to a fast start in 2016 and forecasting a similar growth trajectory,” he added.
Better keep an eye on that tech disposal
Maxxum, a local technology asset disposal company says a recent survey it conducted indicates that “organizations still engage in risky technology disposal behavior, even as data breaches continue to increase in frequency and severity.” In a statement, CEO Rich Woodward notes, “Data breaches, whether lost or stolen information, can damage your brand as well as result in fines.”