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February, 2012 - SMAC in the News

SMAC Study Accepted by Legislative Coordinating Commission

The Southwest Marketing Advisory Center (SMAC) at Southwest Minnesota State University has had its business start-up study accepted by the Legislative Coordinating Commission.

The study is entitled “Five State Comprehensive Study of Regulations Affecting Small Business Start-ups.” SMAC won the bid for the study over the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and Minnesota State University, Mankato.

SMAC is a student-run marketing business housed on the SMSU campus. It was established to give SMSU students hands-on marketing experience while filling a business void in the region.

According to SMAC Executive Director, Mike Rich, the study came about when a 3M executive, Alex Cirillo, expressed to legislators that he had heard for years that it was more difficult to start up a small business in Minnesota than anywhere else in the upper Midwest, but all of the evidence was anecdotal. The Legislature authorized money for a study looking into that belief, and SMAC was awarded the job with a bid of $45,000.

Rich said 1,825 hours of work went into the study, which began in February 2011.

Five student employees of the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center coordinated the study. “We decided to run a dual study,” said Rich. “We sent out printed surveys to each business start-up since 1985 in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin,” he said.

He then took the five students and assigned one state to each. They were instructed to call various state agencies asking for information about how to start a business. “We set up guidelines on the difficulty they had in getting information,” said Rich.

Data from the printed surveys and the student research was then compiled, and states were ranked, from easiest to start a business, to most difficult.

The printed surveys that were returned showed that South Dakota was the easiest start-up state, followed by North Dakota and Iowa, with Wisconsin and Minnesota tied for the most difficult.

The student research showed that South Dakota was the easiest start-up state, followed by North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, with Wisconsin being the hardest.

“The perception proved to be true,” said Rich.

“It was interesting that on the written survey, no one complained about the amount of regulations. What they did complain about was the difficulty in finding out about the regulations,” he said. “The individual state websites, none are complete, so when you have to phone to fill in the blanks, that’s where the difficulty kicks in.”
The five student researches who investigate each state included:

  • Nicole Bonnstetter, senior, Slayton, Minn.
  • Taylor Voss, senior, Avon, Minn.
  • Danielle Schmidt, Brandon, S.D.
  • Anil Singh, graduate student, Nepal
  • Aastha Dhakal, senior, Nepal

Rober Shatto, a senior from Marshall, did a lot of research on this project as well, said Rich.
The study can be viewed online at:

For further information, call 507-537-7102 or e-mail:

Last Modified: 8/23/22 3:53 PM | Website Feedback