The Chamber’s 2017 Annual Meeting, held on Tuesday, December 5, featured Stacy Crakes and Jo Foust of the Scott County First Stop Shop, a resource of the Scott County Community Development Agency. It helps businesses locate and expand within the cities and townships in Scott County.

Established in 2012, the First Stop Shop was created to support the county’s 50 by 30 initiative, which strives to employ 50% of county residents within the county by 2030. It’s already making an impact — employment has grown from 35.6% in 2009 to 40.6% in 2016.

The presentation (click to download) highlighted the various programs available to help businesses in Scott County launch, grow and succeed.


Economic Gardening – A free program benefiting second-stage growth companies (general/flexible criteria: 10-99 employees; revenues of $10-50 million) that connects business owners with executives of peer companies, and research and resources to expand your businesses.

Open to Business – Free, one-on-one business counseling to assist new and existing businesses on matters including business planning, growth strategies, etc. Also provide access to financing.

Technology Village – A business incubator that started in Prior Lake and now welcomes businesses from anywhere in Scott County. Onsite and virtual options benefit businesses through networking, support services and access to expert resources.

FAST-TRACK Business Challenge – Begun in 2017, the FAST-TRACK Business Challenge is a “Shark Tank” style business challenge to identify and launch entrepreneurs and start-up businesses that could benefit from incubator services. The 2017 winners, Ion Concert Media (1st place) and ZIET LLC (2nd place), won a prize packages worth $15,000. The 2018 Challenge will be open for applicants/contestants in the summer for the event in the fall.

South Metro SCORE – Located in Burnsville, South Metro SCORE provides free advice from local experts to help start or grow businesses as well as periodic workshops and seminars.

Shakopee Workforce Center – A resource to help local businesses fill employment vacancies. The center hosts weekly hiring events on Thursdays (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and a jobs board at

Online Resources, including DemographicsNow – The Scott County Library system has several business and demographic databases to help businesses gain information about their prospective customers and markets. You simply need a library card and login to access the databases. One of note is DemographicsNow, which can provide a plethora of cross-tabulated information (demographics, purchasing habits, lifestyle preferences, etc.) to help businesses precisely target likely customers with your marketing. Create and download mailing lists for consumers anywhere in the country.

Training Seminars on relevant topics such as small businesses taxes, marketing and business financing. The next seminar will feature John McHugh, director of communications for Kwik Trip Stores, on February 20 at 8:30 a.m. at Prior Lake City Hall.

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If you’d like to subscribe to the First Stop Shop’s e-newsletter to stay informed of all these services and events, visit the About Us page on the FSS website.