By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Tom and Jenni Smude, owners of Smude Sunflower Oil, recently learned he was the recipient of a $298,000 Value-Added Producer Grant through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Smude began his business of creating oil from sunflower seeds from his home place in Pierz two years ago. Now, the product can be found on shelves in businesses across the nation and can be ordered online.
The grant allows Smude to market his product, said Carol Anderson, executive director of Community Development of Morrison County. Anderson said Community Development helped Smude finance his equipment when he started out. She directed Smude to the Small Business Development Administration in Brainerd to help work on this grant. Staff there worked with Smude and wrote the grant application.
Anderson said she sends anyone who wants to become a business owner to the Small Business Development Administration to help develop a market plan and strategy.
Anderson said Smude works long hours in his business, as well as a grain bin operation he’s started. “He is a true entrepeneur — that is what he really is,” said Anderson. “That’s what it takes to really launch a business.”