There’s something new happening within our network thanks to an exciting partnership with North Dakota’s Department of Commerce. In June, our update highlighted the then-new Commerce Commissioner James Leiman and his role along with his dedication to working together with the ND SBDC to better the state of business in North Dakota. From those summer conversations, common goals and business sector needs were identified. To address those needs the two entities have co-funded a new position within the Small Business Development Network.
Titled the Specialty Services Director and based out of the Bismarck office, the position was posted by the ND SBDC in late July. While business advising remains the focus of the position, the special charge of the role is working with underserved populations, primarily North Dakota’s new American and Native American communities. Even more unique is that only 75% of the job is working with the ND SBDC; the other 25% is dedicated to working with the ND Procurement Technical Assistance Center to help bolster federal government contracting for small businesses within North Dakota.
The network found the perfect fit for this position in Mr. Tyler Demars, who began in August. Tyler has lived throughout the state of North Dakota his whole life, growing up in Minot, receiving an undergraduate degree from Grand Forks’ University of North Dakota, living between Grand Forks and Fargo before obtaining a Master’s in Strategic Leadership from Bismarck’s University of Mary, and settling in Bismarck. His education, in addition to his professional and personal experiences, well-prepared him for the role of Specialty Services Director.
Before joining the ND SBDC Tyler worked in many different capacities in business and economic development. During this time Tyler had first-hand experience with the network’s programs, partnering with the ND SBDC on projects and contracting with the network. Preparing him to work with the Native American communities in North Dakota, Tyler spent three years teaching in the United Tribes Technical College’s business department. There he built relationships and “gained a unique appreciation for Native American cultures and the different challenges faced by their community,” he shared. His personal passions also make him a great fit for the position as he has spent years volunteering with groups that assist underserved populations, specifically the Bismarck Global Neighbors organization which helps support and mentor new Americans in North Dakota.
On his experience with Bismarck’s Global Neighbors, Tyler said: “Through that I’ve gained a strong appreciation for the uniqueness of those cultures and what they add to our community and ecosystem here in North Dakota. This position combines my professional-based experience with some of the service-based work I’ve done. I love it, it’s great.”
When asked about initial goals for this new position, Tyler named three:
- ND SBDC: Assist clients in making an informed decision whether to pursue and launch a business or not, increasing business successes and reducing business failures.
- ND SBDC: Connect with those organizations who are aligned with the goal of promoting business success for underserved populations, reducing duplication of services to create room for providing additional opportunities and assistance.
- ND PTAC: Increase Department of Defense spending with North Dakota’s small businesses.
Tyler’s long-term goals for the position are more ambitious – he wants to work himself out of a job. He believes this position will have been successful once North Dakota’s business resources for underserved populations are prevalent and well-enough connected that additional coordination and outreach is no longer needed to reach and help those communities. He wants to see a more connected and engaged North Dakota. “The more connected we are, the better we are. The better we understand cultural differences, the better we are as a state,” he shared. Tyler’s message was that communities benefit when individuals feel a sense of hope and equity in business and in community engagement; he wants to ensure that the resources and support systems needed to understand and break down cultural barriers in business are in place for new Americans, Native Americans, and other populations in North Dakota.
When asked about his most impactful experience working with a client thus far, Tyler said it happens every time he sees their confidence shift. “It’s when a client stops feeling so overwhelmed and stops feeling imposter syndrome. When they make that paradigm shift in self-awareness from ‘imposter’ to ‘okay I can do this, I can be an entrepreneur, I can own a business.’ You just see the shift in their confidence level and how engaged they are and how much more productive they are.”
We are excited to have Tyler on board with the ND SBDC in his role as the Specialty Services Director and can’t wait to see where the position goes! A special thank you to James Leiman and the Department of Commerce for their work and great collaboration. Tyler said it best when he said, “The more connected we are, the better we are.”
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network