Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV) congratulates the graduates of the Enterprise Academy’s Spring 2021 program. Participants were able to attend Enterprise Academy through a new pilot partnership between MLCV and Initiative Foundation. During the 12-week program, attendees received one-on-one training designed to help them develop a realistic business plan.

MLCV is proud to play a role in helping residents of the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. The potential impact to the community the graduates could make is immeasurable.

“Passionate small business owners play an important part in the success of an economy. I hope this opportunity has provided each of the program’s participants the tools to harness their passions to become successful entrepreneurs for themselves and their communities,” states Aarik Robertson, Directors of Strategic Initiatives at MLCV.

This group of entrepreneurs comprised the program’s first cohort hosted in the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy. The graduates and their business plans include:

• Adrienne Benjamin and Julie Benjamin, Anishinaabe-inspired coffee and bake shop with a makerspace

• Melanie Benjamin, online shopping community for Native artists

• Terrence Flores, Founder of ColorFlo Painting

• Chris Matrious, stump-grinding business

• Cristal Mroczek, do-it-yourself automotive garage

• Daniel Pewaush, e-commerce business

• Diana Knobel Turner, Founder of Mrs. Knobel Knows Nature Connexions

“We are very pleased with the success of this initial Mille Lacs Tribal Economy cohort,” shares Jeff Wig, Vice President for Entrepreneurship. “While much work remains to be done by the participants to make their business ideas a reality, the Initiative Foundation and our partners at the North Central Small Business Development Center are ready to help every step of the way.”

While the Enterprise Academy brings several resources to the participants in a condensed time frame, it is just the first step in the journey to owning a successful business. The next steps for the entrepreneurs can vary and include additional business planning, coordinating financing, searching for a location, and completing the legal incorporation documents necessary.

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