Serving the citizens of Koochiching County and the cities of Bigfalls, International Falls, Littlefork, Northome, Ranier and surrounding region.
Serving the citizens of Koochiching County and the cities of Bigfalls, International Falls, Littlefork, Northome, Ranier and surrounding region.

KEDA Hires New SBDC Consultant


The Koochiching Economic Development Authority (KEDA), in partnership with the University of Minnesota – Duluth Center for Economic Development named JoAnn Smith to the position of Small Business Development Consultant (SBDC) effective February 24th, 2017.

Smith, a graduate of Michigan Technological University in Mechanical Engineering, brings a varied background in the private sector including Boise Paper and the Littlefork Care Center, as well as a small business owner.

“JoAnn brings a broad and practical perspective to this position that will help in her role working with small businesses and entrepreneurs.  We’re excited to have her on board,” said Paul Nevanen, Director of the KEDA.

Smith takes over the role from Jenny Herman who accepted a position as Koochiching County Administrator.

“I look forward to working with the current and future business owners of our community. There are many opportunities for small businesses and I am excited to showcase these opportunities,” said JoAnn Smith, SBDC Consultant.

Smith grew up in a small town community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where small businesses and education were key to the economic impact of the town. After graduating high school she attended Michigan Technological University and received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, taking classes in quality and lean manufacturing. She moved to International Falls in 2008 to work for Boise as a production and quality engineer, where she met her husband Chris Smith. They were married in 2011 and purchased the Viking Bar in January of 2012. JoAnn has three children, Janessa Smith, 16, Jordan Smith, 14, and Caitlyn Smith, 2. They currently still own and operate the Viking Bar which is located downtown International Falls. JoAnn went back to school at Bemidji State University, earning an additional B.S. degree in Business Administration and in 2015, JoAnn and her husband, Chris, opened up Smith Sports, a sporting goods store downtown International Falls. In 2016, JoAnn was hired at the Littlefork Care Center and worked as the dietary and purchasing manager and scheduler. After hearing about the SBDC position, JoAnn thought this would be the perfect fit for her skills and love of working to expand the economy in International Falls and the surrounding area.

The SBDC provides a wide range of services to small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout Koochiching County – from business plans, financial analysis, business structure and ownership, marketing, as well as Quick Books assistance.  As a consultant within the regional SBDC, Smith will also have access to the regional network of resources they provide.

For more information contact Paul Nevanen, Director KEDA (218)283-8585