Q&A: Get to know EFund business developer JoAnn Smith based in International Falls

Samantha Erkkila, Digital Media Specialist

September 14, 2022

JoAnn Smith, Entrepreneur Fund business developer

We are very excited to add JoAnn Smith to our team of Entrepreneur Fund business developers. JoAnn joins us from International Falls, MN, making her our northernmost team member in the 17 counties we serve in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

If you are in Koochiching or northern St. Louis County, you may be working JoAnn in the near future. Get to know a bit more about her in this quick Q&A.

What brought you to International Falls?

I’ve been here since 2009. I moved here to start working at the Boise paper mill as an engineer. After working here for some time, I started a family and have a daughter who is in second grade this year.

What about your background and experience makes you excel at supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs?

I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a degree in Business Administration with emphasis in Entrepreneurship from Bemidji State University. I’ve owned two businesses in the past, one was a bar and one was a sports shop. I learned a lot during that time and over the years and enjoy being able to help other business owners.

You've worked with EFund staff before on other projects/partnerships. What drew you to want to work here?

I have worked with the Entrepreneur Fund in my previous roll as a business consultant with the Koochiching Economic Development Authority and the Small Business Development Center. The Entrepreneur Fund gives clients an opportunity for financing that traditional banks cannot. They also offer support and resources for business owners to be successful. After working with the Entrepreneur Fund staff for a few years, I decided that this would be a great opportunity for me to continue to help people and support local small businesses even more. The experiences that I had working with all the staff showed me that this was a group of passionate and compassionate people that loved doing their job. This was exactly what I wanted as well.

What motivates you at work?

I am passionate about helping others. It’s rewarding to help people and see their progress over time. Being able to make an impact in a person’s life that not only affects them, but also their family and community is extremely rewarding. I am motivated to help others be successful and get through the hard times to see how their hard work can pay off.

What was your first paying job?

My first paying job was in a hospital/nursing home kitchen as a dietary aide.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love spending time with my daughter, crafting, and working around the yard.

If we found ourselves in International Falls for the day, what's the first thing we should do?

If you come to International Falls, be sure to see Smokey the Bear, a very large statue in the park. If you like hiking I would recommend going on the bog walk that is a few miles east of town. There are many resorts in the summer to visit and enjoy the lake at. Downtown there are some neat stores to look at such as Swanky Gifts On Rainy and Ronnings.

Welcome to the team, JoAnn! We can’t wait to see all the amazing things you will do to help businesses and communities in northern Minnesota thrive.  

To get in touch with JoAnn or our other business developers, you can fill out this short form and a team member will get back to you shortly.

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