From more than 700 applicants, Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory in Ham Lake, Minnesota, was named this year’s Dream Big Small Business of the Year during an awards ceremony at the U.S. Chamber’s Big Week for Small Business virtual summit. Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory CEO Brenda Nolby accepted the award, which comes with a $25,000 prize and celebrates small businesses’ achievements and their contributions to America’s economic growth.
The Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award recognizes a small business that exemplifies the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and individual initiative. Jam Hops impressed with its demonstrated success and leadership in business growth, innovative strategies, community engagement, and customer and employee relations.
Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory was formed in 1997 with the merger of two gymnastics programs. Over the years, the business grew and then outgrew it's facility with new programs and students. In 2017 they moved into a 43,000 square foot mega-complex to house all of their programs at one location. They offer gymnastics, Ninja Zone, cheer, dance, theater, academic preschool, day camps, birthday parties, among other activities. In 2019 they opened their second location in Anoka for gymnastics and also built a theater to house Upstage Productions children's theater.
"As we grow, the purpose of our business is to positively impact our community and families found within. We will continue to seek out ways to engage children in activities that aid in their overall development. Jam Hops also continues to assist parents with affordable, quality options for their children to participate in a fun, safe atmosphere."
At Jam Hops, athletics is only a small part of the company’s mission to develop the community’s youth into “Life Champions.” The more than 140 employees at Jam Hops take seriously the responsibility of being role models, and teaching life skills and character development daily. In the last three years due to more children enrolling in programs and events, Jam Hops has created more than 80 new positions, becoming one of the largest employers in the area. It's also one of the few facilities in the country to have such diverse offerings, creating a huge convenience for parents to be able to access a variety of activities all in one location.
With such a sizeable presence in the community, giving back is woven into Jam Hops’ operations. For example, the company gives 100% of the proceeds from Open Gym passes to local non-profit organizations (and if a child brings in 10 items to donate to a local pantry, they get a free Open Gym pass). From this initiative Jam Hops has donated $20,000 in the past year, $110,000 since starting the program, and has donated thousands of pounds of food and clothing.
Additionally, Jam Hops often donates birthday parties for local fundraising events and has given almost $72,000 in scholarships in the past year alone to families in need. The children who participate in Jam Hops’ programs also enjoy volunteering to clean up the nearby city park, performing at local nursing homes, and making tie-blankets to distribute to the homeless community.
Flagship Bank is happy to partner with such an amazing business that gives so much back to their community. When we asked Brenda to tell us about how the relationship with Flagship Bank started she explained that there was a lot of "creative financing" that needed to happen in order to make the dream of that building a reality. Flagship worked closely with Brenda and Central Minnesota Development on an SBA loan to secure the sources and amounts needed to help with her down payment.
"I was pursued by a couple of other big banks, but because of the necessity for the "outside the box" structure of my loan, and my desire to bank with someone locally, Flagship turned out to be the perfect fit!" Brenda Nolby, CEO of Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory
The small business has a tangible passion for transforming the lives of children through its athletic and academic programs, while at the same time maintaining a family-like culture and giving back to the community as the business continues to grow. We at Flagship Bank are proud to be a part of helping them continue this mission.