Mankato received a “pop of positivity” as Angie’s BoomChickaPop received a legacy recognition from the U.S Small Business Administration.
The SBA celebrated its 70th anniversary July 30. To mark the milestone, the SBA honored legacy businesses nationwide that grew from startups into household names.
While Minnesota chose to honor BoomChickaPop, other businesses recognized by the SBA were Chobani, Under Armour and Nike.
“To be in that group of businesses is an honor,” BoomChickaPop Founder Angie Bastian said.
The recognition also meant a lot to Gov. Tim Walz, who was in attendance, as the Bastians are his neighbors and former colleagues.
“They’re my dear friends and to watch a story of folks start a business in their garage and turn it into a multinational, multimillion dollar corporation while keeping the Mankato values is a big deal to me,” Walz said. “It’s exciting to see them be honored like this.”
Bastian said when she and her husband Dan bought their first kettle back in 2001, she “didn’t imagine we’d be with the governor,” or that the company would grow into what it is today.
“We never aimed for this, but every step of the way, we grew and then we believed we could do the next thing. It was sort of surprising, but you never know what could happen,” Bastian said.
Besides selling popcorn in the U.S., BoomChickaPop is an international company with products sold in Singapore, Peru and Canada to name a few.
Bastian said the success of BoomChickaPop helped other small businesses after they sold the company to Conagra Brands back in October 2017.
“A lot of our employees spun off and started their own businesses. They saw if we could do it, anyone could do it,” Bastian said.
In addition to presenting the legacy recognition to the Bastians, Walz proclaimed Aug. 3 to be Small Business Administration Day. SBA District Director Brian McDonald said the largest change they’ve experienced is how the program evolved depending on the economy’s needs.
“Most recently during the COVID pandemic, we were able to find $22 billion in pandemic relief to Minnesota small businesses. They’re a big component of the workforce and a huge driver of the economy, so supporting small businesses is a win-win,” McDonald said.
McDonald said small businesses are impacting Minnesota’s economy as over 543,000 small businesses have brought in more than $33 million. They also make up 46% of the workforce.
Walz said small businesses have played an important role in furthering Minnesota’s economy.
“Small businesses are foundational. We were recently named the top five business state, top four state to live in and we have the fifth most diverse economy,” Walz said. “Those things happen when people can have good jobs like they can at BoomChickaPop and across the Mankato community. It’s exciting.”
McDonald said the reason they honored BoomChickaPop with the legacy recognition was for the impact it has had on the community.
“It’s a story of starting small, not going at it alone and using SBA programs and resources,” McDonald said. “They worked with mentors for seven years and now there’s over 300 people. It’s really the American Dream.”
Walz said he’d like to see small businesses grow in equity, specifically with women-owned businesses and in communities of color.
“We know that business growth in the Twin Cities is happening, but making sure that they are expanding in all corners of the state,” Walz said.
Bastian’s advice to entrepreneurs is not to get it perfect before they start.
“There’s nothing that’s perfect. Just try to do it as best as you can and bring people along,” Bastian said. “Don’t give up. Keep knocking on doors until someone says ‘come in and we’ll give you what you need.’”
You can reach out to SBA at sba.gov or on their LinkedIn page.
Header photo: From left, SBA District Director Brian McDonald, SBA Regional Administrator Geri Aglipay, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, BoomChickaPop Founder Angie Bastian, Gov. Tim Walz and Founder Dan Bastian celebrate SBA’s 70th anniversary by giving BoomChickaPop the Legacy Recognition. (Dominic Bothe/The Reporter)
Write to Emma Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org