MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It takes more than just a good idea to launch your own business — you need financing, a solid business plan, technical skills, and most likely some advice.

Wednesday afternoon, an agency called MEDA held it’s annual awards lunch to recognize successful entrepreneurs.

MEDA stands for Metropolitan Economic Development Association. It offers help to minority business owners, and has plenty of success stories. For 44 years, MEDA has played an important role in turning thousands of dreams into realities.

Gary Cunningham is the president of MEDA.

“We offer technical assistance and consulting services to businesses so they can grow to the next level,” he said. “We offer a loan fund to businesses and we help businesses develop and find market opportunities.”

Cunningham says when small businesses are successful, they then create new jobs for others.

“One of my mentors, Paul Wellstone, would say ‘when we all do better, we all do better,’ and I think that’s true,” he said. “I think that is what we are trying to create.”

Abby and Carlos Jimenez are the owners of Nadia Cakes, a thriving bakery that got its start in their home. They now have a store in Maple Grove, and an even larger one in Woodbury.

“If it were not for MEDA, we would not have our Woodbury location,” Abby said. “They came in and gave us funding when our own bank would not loan us money. They really did save the day.”

Nadia Cakes recently got national attention after Abby and one her chefs won baking competitions on the Food Network and TLC.

“We didn’t have this fantastic degree behind us to help drive our business or to convince a bank to give us money,” she said. “All we had was our entrepreneurial dreams and ideas and the will to work hard, and I think that MEDA really takes that into account. They look at other things the banks may not look at.”

Even though MEDA focuses on entrepreneurs of color, their services are open to everyone across the state.

The top award at the annual lunch today went to Hoyt Hsiao of Shaw-Lundquist Associates, which is a general contractor in St. Paul. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014.

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