June 18, 2019 11:09 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- Business is booming in small-town Harmony. Since April, three local businesses have opened up in the town of just 1,000 people.
After working together in the ethanol industry, Andy Craig, Jim Simpson and Larry Tammel decided to try something new.
"Between the three of us, there is 45 years of cooking and distilling and fermenting experience,” said Simpson, so venturing into the distillery business didn’t seem like a big jump.
"We started to pursue the idea, and one thing led to another,” said Tammel.
They decided to open Harmony Spirits, a micro-distillery that produces vodka, whiskey and rum.
"We kind of looked all over southeast Minnesota and felt really welcomed in Harmony,” said Simpson.
Harmony Spirits is just one of three local businesses that have opened up in the last couple of months in the small town.
"I really firmly believe that Harmony has a vibrant and growing business community,” said Chris Skaalen, president of the Harmony Economic Development Authority.
He said a low-interest revolving loan fund makes it possible for new businesses to get started.
"This was established a number of years back with a $100,000 grant. We've been able to revolve that throughout the years. Throughout that time we've been able to leverage $1.1 million and assist 65 new and expanding businesses," he said.
It was most recently given to the distillery.
"The property that (the distillery sits on) was city-owned. We were able to give that for a dollar for them to do that. In addition, we were also able to utilize the revolving loan fund to assist them with some of the startup costs,” said Skaalen.
He added that opening a business in Harmony is about more than the economic support.
"Harmony is just a great place to live, and work and play,” he said.
New owners of the Falcon’s Nest, Emily and Shannon Onsager, have found that to be true.
"My family is originally from Harmony. My mother was and we moved here when I was 14. Then I've been away and been back and we make our home here,” said Emily Onsager.
So when a local restaurant closed, they knew they needed to step in.
"The Village Square had been closed since October or November the previous year, and we couldn't see another building be empty on Main Street in Harmony. We are very into our community and we like to do things in our community. This was a way for us to give back to our community by keeping it open," she said.
Their restaurant has been open for less than three weeks.
"It's just a unique blend of restaurants. A lot of my friends in local communities say 'we have a hard enough time keeping one restaurant open. How do you guys keep four or five?'” said Skaalen.
It seems to only be growing.
"It's really nice to see more businesses coming into town,” said Shannon Onsager.
Back at the brewery, Simpson said it all comes down to the local support.
"We had local people help us put the building together, local people are supplying the grain. All of the spent grains are going back to Andy's farm. Just a full circle, local products that we can hopefully sell locally first, and then hit the rest of the world,” he said.
Created: June 18, 2019 11:09 PM
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