Fly Away AgriProducts Inc.

Boo-hoo, said the businessman because he couldn’t find enough qualified workers to help him make his product line. The labor shortage in Minnesota had inflated his wage costs and cut his margins to the bone in a dog-eat-dog industry. What was he going to do?

When Duane Sibbet was hit with the above quandary, he didn’t boo-hoo. Rather he did what he thought made sense: he closed up shop. And close he did – his Twin Cities home construction business – and began a whole new career and business at age 40 in Blue Earth, Minn., compliments of that city’s economic development authority and an idea gleaned from his parents’ horse blanket business.

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Neil Eckles

While spraying out ideas like bullets from a Gatling gun, Blue Earth’s Neil Eckles, 59, leans forward to make another salient point about the Internet. “If we could speed that up,” he says rat-a-tat-tat, “man, there’s no end to that thing.” His mind seems perpetually locked on rapid fire and sometimes his mouth has a hard time keeping up with all his ideas. He has a boyish enthusiasm about his work.

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Hybrid Microcircuits

Tim Mullen dreamed of starting his own business for years, but never once fantasized about building the world’s smallest hearing-aid amplifier. Now he’s done both.

In December of 1991, Mullen and three like-minded partners put their new company together on paper, incorporating as Hybrid MicroCircuits, Inc.. In February of 1992, they opened their doors in Belle Plaine, long on experience but a tad short on capital and pinched for space. In 1993, they alleviated their capital and space situations by moving 110 miles south on Hwy. 169 to Blue Earth.

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