Elevate Business Academy celebrates nine new graduates in the Kandiyohi County area – West Central Tribune


WILLMAR – It was a special night. Nine local business owners celebrated their graduation from the Elevate Community Business Academy on June 28, according to a press release from the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

The academy is an in-depth 12-week “Business 101” course.

“These students were 100% committed to their business ideas or current ventures. I’m so proud of the work these students have accomplished,” said Sarah Swedburg, EDC’s business development manager, who helps teach the course. “They’ve balanced a lot over the last four months — jobs, weekly homework, families — that says a lot about their character.”

Elevate Academy professor and former graduate Danny Carranza smiled proudly as he read each graduate’s name and shook their hands, presenting them with their diplomas.

Community members and representatives from the Town of Willmar and the Willmar Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, among others, cheered. Family members took photos and the students’ children cheered and jumped in place as their parents were recognized for their accomplishments.

According to the press release, Tiffany Farrier, owner and operator of Kandi Acres Farm, wept during her speech, recounting how she watched the class grow together, moving from silence and reserve to sharing laughter and ambition.

The keynote speaker for the event was Nathalie Nkashama, owner of Word Mart, a mobile ethnic grocery store and food truck based in Worthington.

“When people say you’re crazy, that’s when you set yourself up to blow their minds,” she told the graduates. “I’m here to make a difference and I can do anything. (We) are different to make a difference.

She expanded by confirming that each graduate’s unique and different ideas would make a difference to the community served.

EDC Director Aaron Backman also shared how students can continue to turn their ideas into realities.

Graduates and their businesses or business ideas include:

  • Dawn Stahl: Dandelion Wishes LLC, consumer boutique, clothing store
  • Jessica Hanson: Hypnosis Willmar
  • Scott and Stacy Holwerda: S&S Sweets & Treats and The Hive event space
  • Tiffany Farrier: Kandi Acres Farm LLC, raising goats and chickens
  • Mery Castro: Yireh Creations, personalized T-shirts and merchandise
  • Stephanie Lopez: Spurs Bar & Grill
  • Zethukia Momanyi: Zethukia’s Beauty, natural hair salon

For a complete list of past graduates, visit the program’s website at elevatecba.com.

The next English course is scheduled for Fall 2022, September 12-December 12, with classes on Monday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

A Somali language course will also be offered this fall after the curriculum is translated with funding from the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Economic Development.

To learn more, visit elevatecba.com or contact Swedberg at [email protected] or by calling 320-235-7370.


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