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Scott County, MN Cultivates Entrepreneurial Spirit

Community welcomes innovative ventures

By Kevin Litwin on August 15, 2014

By the Yard in Jordan, Minnesota, Scott County
Michael Conti

While recognizable companies like Shutterfly and Datacard see Scott County as the perfect place to expand, a number of home-grown entrepreneurs are looking to make their products more recognizable. They’ve found local support, a well-trained workforce, major transportation routes and a strong creative energy right in their own back yards.

One of the biggest local success stories started in 1995, when Deb and Roger Anderson decided to make outdoor furniture out of recycled plastic milk jugs in their basement. Their company, By the Yard, now has 43 employees and is constructing a new 60,000-square-foot building on Highway 169 in Jordan.

“Our new manufacturing and showroom facility is directly across from our current 26,000-square-foot building,” says Deb Anderson. “We needed to expand, and Scott County offers a nice balance of rural community and a close proximity to Minneapolis.”

By the Yard’s inventory includes chairs, benches, tables, rockers and chaise lounges in more than 130 styles and nine colors. The products are sold at Schneiderman’s furniture stores, Bachman’s outdoor centers and the company’s By the Way showroom.

“Doing business along Highway 169 offers great visibility and easy motorist access for customers and our employees,” Anderson says. “Scott County is a perfect home for us.”

Maggie & Mary’s

Another successful entrepreneurial venture is the specialty foods company North Aire Market, which packages dry soup mixes under the brand Maggie & Mary’s as well as Camp Traditions. The products are sold in stores like Williams-Sonoma, Cabela’s, gourmet shops and through the L.L. Bean catalog.

“It was a conscious decision to locate our business in Shakopee even though neither of us had grown up in the city. Mary is from Iowa and I grew up in Prior Lake,” says Maggie Mortensen, co-owner of North Aire Market with partner Mary Dodd. “We appreciated the work ethic of people who live in rural areas, and Shakopee offers that. Scott County features hard-working people with good values, growing business platforms and relatively easy access to the city.”

Soup and Much More

The soups sold by the company are easy to prepare, with customers needing to only add water. North Aire Market also makes and packages appetizer, dip, chili, dessert and beverage mixes.

“Both our Maggie & Mary’s brand and Camp Traditions have seen increased sales in the last year,” Mortensen says. “Soup is our main seller, so we have 30 employees during the busy sales season from July to February, then 15 employees throughout the rest of the year.”

Mortensen adds that the company hires many workers from the community, and often one good employee will refer another good employee to her.

“Twice a year, we hold a big warehouse sale and collaborate with other small businesses in Shakopee, and we all become stronger with people coming to our sales and then they tell their neighbors about our products,” she says. “Promoting small business success is a big part of Scott County.”

Read more about business in Shakopee and Scott County, Minnesota.

“Doing business along Highway 169 offers great visibility and easy motorist access for customers and our employees – Scott County is a perfect home for us.”

Deb Anderson
Co-Owner, By Tthe Yard
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