A mother/daughter team opens the area’s newest doggie daycare.

21-year old entrepreneur, Cassie Corson took an idea she had in college and turned it into a reality with her mom, Jackie. Opened in 2021, Bark Barn is a dog daycare facility committed to providing man’s best friend with a safe and fun-filled day of exercise and socialization — with lots of love and affection.

Finding a new hometown.

The Corson’s success story starts in 2007 when they lived in Rochester, Minnesota. Seeing the city grow beyond 100,000 people, the Corson’s yearned for a smaller, closer-knit community experience. Familiar with Alexandria visiting retired grandparents, Cassie and her family followed their gut instinct and moved — with an unspoken assurance that Alexandria would be a community in which they could thrive. “It’s been great,” Cassie’s mother says. “The kids had a great time growing up here.”

An Idea Is Born

After graduating from Alexandria Area High School in 2018, Cassie went on to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead. Shortly after her second year began, she realized a formal education path wasn’t right for her. Needing some time to figure out her next steps, Cassie took a job at a local dog daycare facility in Moorhead — and an entrepreneurial seed was planted. Cassie recalls thinking, “Why isn’t there a dog daycare in Alexandria?” So she started planning.

While many of her peers were studying for college exams, Cassie was reaching out to her hometown connections trying to figure out how to finance a new business venture. A local lender at Bell Bank referred Cassie to the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) where they met Executive Director, Nicole Fernholz.

Getting free start-up help from the AAEDC.

With Nicole’s guidance, Cassie and Jackie took advantage of the AAEDC’s Develop with Douglas online business coaching platform. This free and confidential service allowed them to work privately with a coach to create a thorough business plan. The lender at Bell Bank used that plan to structure a loan (backed by some of AAEDC’s gap financing) that suited their needs and allowed them to open their doors — just months after first inquiring about a loan.

Local business owners, as well as individuals looking to start a new business, can get advice on topics ranging from how to offer full-time benefits to existing employees, to how to register a new business with the state. This service can be utilized by prospective and existing businesses as often as they’d like — at no charge to them.

The AAEDC hoped the program would foster job growth and new business development in Alexandria. “It exceeded our expectations,” Nicole said, reflecting on the program’s debut year. The fulfillment of Cassie’s vision to return to Alexandria and open a business that would feed an existing need in the community is a perfect example of what this program is designed to do.

See if the Bark Barn is hiring! Explore open positions on their Careers page.

“Being so young and starting a business is really remarkable. I’m so happy we could help Cassie and Jackie create something impactful here in Alexandria.”

Nicole Fernholz

Want to build your business in a place where it can thrive?

We’re here to help. The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission offers low-interest business loans, grants, free business coaching, and personal support on your business journey. See what’s possible here.