Our Small Business Consultants Team
Our small business consultants are experienced business professionals, most of whom have owned their own businesses. They are able to help you identify, understand and overcome the challenges of running a successful business and competing in the global marketplace.
Regional Program Manager
As the 6th-generation of her family farm in Waseca, MN, Molly has always had a deep connection to agriculture and entrepreneurship. Even while living in Chicago for ten years working in politics, these values remained important to her.
During the pandemic, Molly reconnected with her southern Minnesota roots and enrolled in the Farm Business Management program at South Central College to learn how to manage her family farm. She also became an advocate for rural communities, which ultimately led to her decision to remain in her hometown and contribute to its growth.
Molly worked at Waseca City Hall and the Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce, overseeing economic and community development projects such as the Waseca New Business Challenge, an entrepreneurial training program facilitated by the South Central Small Business Development Center, and a $30k business pitch competition that resulted in the launch of five new businesses.
Inspired by this experience, Molly co-founded The Meatery MN, a family business that became a semifinalist in the 2022 Minnesota Cup, the largest business pitch competition in the state. Her contributions to the community have not gone unnoticed, as she was recognized with the Waseca Chamber’s 2022 Young Professional Distinguished Service award and the Economic Development Association of Minnesota’s 2022 Emerging Professional of the Year award.
As the current Program Manager at the South Central Small Business Development Center, Molly remains committed to supporting her community. She is inspired by the creativity, passion, and determination of entrepreneurs and small business owners and considers it a privilege to help them turn their visions into reality, watch them grow, and succeed.
Small Business Consultants
Areas of Expertise: Finance and Accounting
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Mathematics from Central College, as well as a Master’s degree in Sport Management and a PhD in Educational Leadership from Iowa State University. He has worked in various roles within the field of education from 1995 to 2017, including admissions, student life, TRIO programs, and serving as an instructor in Health and Human Performance, as well as coaching intercollegiate athletics.
Areas of Expertise: Marketing
Wes Otto, a Mankato native, wears multiple hats as the co-owner of Zanz Mexican Restaurant, founder of OMG – Otto Media Group, and publisher of Connect Business Magazine. He possesses strong skills in marketing, restaurant management, organizational leadership, and general business strategy.
Areas of Expertise: Business Development, Operations
Gary has a wealth of experience in creating, developing, marketing, and supporting talent development initiatives across various sectors including the private sector, non-profit organizations, community colleges, and universities. He is particularly skilled in building relationships and alliances, launching start-up projects and businesses, developing leadership capabilities, managing projects, crafting effective marketing strategies, fostering innovation, and implementing lean methodologies.
Areas of Expertise: Marketing Strategy
I’ve been involved in entrepreneurship most of my life, starting at age 6 when I began selling Kleenex tissues to neighbors for a penny apiece. It didn’t last long. Over the years other endeavors followed with varying levels of success. If just being extremely driven guaranteed financial triumph, I’d be rolling in cash. But, over the years, I learned that marketing and financial management are key to a business’s success. So when my last business closed after a seven-year run, I decided to go back to school and complete a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications. Now I’m a copywriter, helping businesses make more money with email campaigns, sales pages, and landing pages that turn more visitors into happy customers. I’m also a marketing consultant with the Small Business Development Center in Mankato, MN.
Areas of Expertise: Nonprofits, Child Care Operations, Grants
Areas of Expertise: Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Website Design, SEO, Local Search
Hannah Bretz is a web designer, marketing consultant, and speaker. She is inspired by creative innovation and entrepreneurial enterprises. Hannah is passionate about helping small businesses achieve their startup and growth milestones by coaching them on the latest digital marketing strategies. Hannah excels in combining creativity with data and analytics. She is a self-proclaimed tech-nerd Millennial.
Areas of Expertise: Human Resources
Rovena’s experience as both an owner of a small retail store and an HR professional for over 30 years gives her a unique perspective on the challenges of starting and managing a business. She understands how overwhelming it can be to get started, particularly when it comes to employee hiring and retention. With her expertise, Rovena can guide you through the process of creating a productive and positive workplace culture, ensuring that your business has the foundation it needs to thrive.
“As an HR expert, what I find most fulfilling is helping business owners navigate the challenges of employee hiring and retention. I firmly believe that properly selected, trained, and supported employees are a business owner’s greatest asset. By providing guidance and support in this area, I can help ensure that your business has the foundation it needs to succeed. So if you’re looking to build a strong team and take your business to the next level, I’m here to help.”
Areas of Expertise: Marketing Planning
Storytelling is Lisa’s true passion, and she feels fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue it in a variety of ways within the community. As the host of KEYC News Now This Morning and Kato Living television shows, Lisa brings a unique perspective to local news and entertainment. She also works in nonprofit marketing with MRCI, where she helps organizations tell their stories and connect with their audience. In her free time, Lisa shares her expertise by teaching as an adjunct at Minnesota State University Mankato and South Central College. With her extensive experience in storytelling, Lisa is able to encourage others to leverage the power of narrative to market themselves, their business, or their organization.
“What I love most about working with the SBDC is witnessing firsthand all the incredible success stories that are emerging from this region. It’s truly inspiring to see small businesses achieve their goals and make a positive impact in their communities. And as a member of the team, I feel privileged to be able to help share these stories with others.”
Areas of Expertise: Business Plan Development, Executive Level Coaching, Strategic Planning, Small Business Resource Identification
Since 2008, Nancy Goodwin has served locally owned businesses, non-profit organizations, communities and government agencies. Nancy’s personal and professional mission is to find better ways to serve the chronically underserved populations throughout the Region and to increase her own capacity by learning from each engagement.
With a diverse professional background that includes retail sales and management, economic and community development in multiple communities, radio (on-air, live events, and ad sales), and approximately 10 years in retail hardware, she brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her consulting work.
For Nancy, the most fulfilling part of consulting is spending one-on-one time with each client, listening to their ideas and plans, and building a trusting relationship. She takes pride in being a valuable resource to many new startups and assisting owners and managers in overcoming challenges throughout the lifecycle of their business. Helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals is the driving force behind her passion for consulting.
Areas of Expertise: Information Technology
Bryan Hoffman is experienced in Information Technology Operations and Information Technology Services with a demonstrated history of building relationships through effective communication, collaboration, and relationship management. He is skilled in creating and maintaining processes that reduce waste and increase efficiency while driving results across organizations. Bryan has strong program and project management professional who values equity, integrity, innovation, professionalism, and flexibility.
Areas of Expertise: Financing, Cash Flow Analysis
Matt Lessard is an executive leader and entrepreneur with over 20 years of business management, financial oversight and analysis, business development, private equity, and international business experience.
Areas of Expertise: Accounting
Providing no cost assistance to new, existing and distressed businesses in South Central Minnesota since the early 1980s.