Sara Jane Ruggles

By SARA JANE RUGGLES/Special To The Coeur d’Alene Press
| January 24, 2021 1:10 AM

Well, folks, it finally happened. I reached the age where my conversations with others are filled with references to buildings around town by noting what businesses USED to be there.

It feels like a rite of passage in my journey of local knowledge. Similar to how the path to aging inevitably leads to that first doctor appointment where the reasoning for all of your aches and pains falls under the medical category of “that just happens when you get older.”

For those of us who are old enough to remember a Coeur d’Alene with working logging mills along the Spokane River and who understand that the giant Paul Bunyan sign means more than just a good burger, you have undoubtedly witnessed the boom of entrepreneurial spirit and growth which has reshaped our local economy over the past three decades.

As we have grown in size and population, our local commerce has expanded to more than a boom town during tourist season. It is now thriving in all four seasons thanks to our community’s love of supporting our local talents, trades, skills, cuisines, and products. Through it all, North Idaho College has remained steadfast as a pillar of mentorship and knowledge for community members who wish to make the brave leap into entrepreneurship.

Therefore, in keeping with the January theme of mentorship, the next episode of MNI’s podcast, Confessions of History Geeks, will examine our living history in which NIC continues to offer mentorship to local businessmen and women as we all venture further into the 2020s.

The featured guest for the upcoming episode is Ryan Arnold, director of Regional Entrepreneurial Strategy at NIC. The work of Ryan and his colleagues is the vehicle through which NIC is continuing to support our region. The interview highlights Ryan’s upbringing in Coeur d’Alene, his celebratory discussion of our local entrepreneurs, and his pride in helping others succeed in their business dreams.

The phrase “knowledge is power” couldn’t be more applicable when it comes to the process of taking an idea from paper to production.

Once an idea is born and the energy exists to turn it into a living breathing business, the immediate logistical questions start piling up. Where do I even begin? Where can I get professional advice, and how do I trust they won’t steal my idea? How much will it cost to engage an advisor for help?

Then comes the logistics of actually functioning as a business. This includes marketing, business planning, accounting, brick and mortar, and building a name for yourself. These hurdles can seem insurmountable without a mentor to get you through it, but thanks to Ryan and his team at NIC, you do not have to go through it alone.

During this podcast episode, Ryan will give listeners an insight into the various ways they can find resources, peace of mind, and the tools they need if they are interested in starting a small business. In our conversation, Ryan summarizes the vast amount of resources available at the college from business mentorship, entrepreneurial support programs that partner with big tech companies, classes that will expand your business knowledge, and labs where you can design and create product prototypes.

This episode captures a snapshot of our local economic history in 2021 for future generations. It can be found on MNI’s website: museumni.org, by clicking on the microphone icon at the bottom of the webpage. Also stream on Apple, Spotify, and with smart home devices. Feel free to reach out to me through my website: sarajaneruggles.com.