Women’s Business Alliance - North Recognized as SBA’s Minnesota Women’s Business Center of Excellence

Entrepreneur Fund

April 4, 2024

Women's Business Alliance North Director Sandi Larson, right, checks-in with her client Lorena Velez, owner of Margarita's Bar and Grill in Duluth, MN. (Entrepreneur Fund)

The U.S. Small Business Administration has named the Women’s Business Alliance - North as the 2024 Minnesota Women’s Business Center of the Year. The WBA North, which is a program of the Entrepreneur Fund, was chosen for its excellence and innovation in training and counseling for culturally and economically diverse women entrepreneurs and serving as a community champion for women-owned small businesses.

Sandi Larson, WBA - North Director

“Women’s Business Alliance - North has a solid reputation for the positive impact they have had in the lives of the small business owners they support, whether it be through classes, individual customized advising, or access to capital,” said SBA Minnesota District Director, Brian McDonald. “Sandi Larson at the Women’s Business Alliance is an incredible advocate for women starting and growing small businesses in northern Minnesota.”

Sandi Larson has been the Director of the WBA’s North region for five years, during which she has provided customized support to entrepreneurs facing unique challenges and opportunities. Drawing on her 18+ years of experience in economic and small business development, Sandi is also responsible for developing programs and opportunities for women entrepreneurs to connect, learn, and develop business skills.

Sandi Larson, second from left, and Lori Coda-Peterson, third from right, lead a Women's Business Mastermind meeting. (Entrepreneur Fund)
“Sandi Larson is one of the most open-minded, smart, kind, down-to-earth and fun people I've had the pleasure to work with over the years,” said Lori Coda-Peterson, owner and coach at Codavision, LLC. “She is a true connector; honoring clients' strengths while helping them find the resources that they need to be successful. She leads genuinely, believes in women and their abilities, and absolutely loves the work that she does.”

Since 2020, the WBA North has helped 151 clients start a business, 822 clients gain access to capital, and has assisted 2,411 clients through business advising.

“Being recognized as the Minnesota Women’s Business Center of the Year is a testament to Sandi’s exceptional talent and dedication to women business owners in our region,” said Shawn Wellnitz, Entrepreneur Fund CEO and President. “Her enthusiasm is a driving force, motivating our team to consistently deliver exceptional service to local entrepreneurs."

The WBA North primarily serves women in seven counties in Northeast Minnesota and Douglas County, Wisconsin, emphasizing women of color and women from low-income households. In 2024, the WBA is celebrating 20 years as a U.S. Small Business Administration resource partner.

WBA-North Director Sandi Larson, right, visits with her client Amanda Rolfe, owner of Liila Boutique in Duluth, MN. (Entrepreneur Fund)

2024 National Small Business Week

National Small Business Week will be held from April 28th– May 4th, 2024. Registration for the 2024 National Small BusinessWeek Virtual Summit is now open. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required. To learn more, visit https://sba.gov/NSBW.

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