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Ready entrepreneurs get tips, starting points for their ventures

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At a certain point, you have to take your really good business idea and turn it into a business.

Getting there isn’t something people in Wisconsin do terribly well.

Year after year, the state winds up dead last on the Kauffman index for business startups. But, just because Wisconsin may not be the best at business startups that doesn’t keep some entrepreneurs out of the game.

Take, for example, the two dozen or so that gathered at the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce Tuesday for that organization’s third annual Small Business Academy.

People like Heather Nokken. She says her journey got a big boost from the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“Oh my goodness, they are so awesome,” she said. “What they do, you just give them all your information and they just build your small business plan for you. Every week you come back.”

Nokken says the free help from the Center turned her rough idea into the insulation business Foam Home in Onalaska.

Another at the event was Steve Dryer, who recently retired from the military and is ready to start out on his own.

“It can be overwhelming at first, what directions you actually need to go,” Dryer admitted.

Dryer plans on launching a driftless zone tour business, as he pursues his post military retirement dreams.

“It’s a big venture for me to start but with the right passion, it can go forward,” Dryer said.

While the Kauffman index has Wisconsin dead last, the state has one of the best records of new businesses that still have their doors open 10 years later.

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