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New FBA networking group forms to support local businesses

The leaders of the new monthly Farmington Business Association networking group will be Rich Loch (left), Pam McCarthy and Josh Solinger. Kara Hildreth / Contributor

Growing a new small business isn't easy. However, a new Farmington networking group plans to support the process in hopes of boosting local business.

The Farmington Business Association networking group will meet at 7:30 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Quick Ship Plus, 115 Elm St., Farmington.

"We want to allow for the opportunity for us to get to know each other and support each other," said Pam McCarthy, a FBA member who serves on the networking leadership group. "Let's try to grow and sustain right here in Farmington."

The new networking group aims to attract the attendance of businesses owners who work across the city and run home businesses. The meeting will serve as a venue for business owners to better communicate together and share ways to grow their own businesses.

"First of all, the businesses need to get noticed and communicate what they do and what services they provide and each individual has their own way of doing that," said Josh Solinger, FBA president. "It is all different for each business and that is what the FBA can help with; spread that message."

Solinger understands the value of the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce and other area business networking support groups, but he said he does not believe those groups are equipped to help Farmington grow.

"We need to focus on the needs of communities like Farmington, and our strength is that we are definitely focused on the Farmington community, that is where we are drawing from," Solinger said. "Our greatest strength in this group will be that we are all local and we want to keep business in their backyard. Our second greatest strength, in my opinion, is that there are no extra fees."

Local BNI networking groups can charge upwards of $900 with different fees each year, Solinger said. The only fee for the networking group will be the $60 annual fee to join FBA.

"Our biggest weakness is that we did not come up with this sooner," Solinger said. We have talked about doing this, but it got pushed to the side and forgotten about."

"Farmington has a unique opportunity to grow and win the trust of the people because once they visit you, they are very loyal to you," FBA Vice President Rich Loch said. "We do not have the transient foot traffic like Apple Valley and Minneapolis, so we have to build relationships."

Moving her American Family Insurance business to Farmington seven years ago, McCarthy said she will be giving her time and commitment to support the group.

"Whether you are in Minneapolis or ... small town Farmington, if we don't start helping each other then we are all going to be ghost towns," McCarthy said.

FBA Vice President Rich Loch opened his shipping and print shop two and a half years ago in Farmington. He said he continues to grow his small business and finds innovative ways to offer more services to connect with more clients. He believes in the potential of this new networking group that can become a way for business owners to support each other.