Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Provides Loan to The Driftless Fly Fishing Company

PRESTON, Minn., August 13, 2015 – Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently approved funding from its Small Enterprise Loan Fund to The Driftless Fly Fishing Company LLC (Driftless), an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide service and supply store in Preston.

Driftless owner Melvin Hayner has been fly fishing for more than 40 years and guiding others for over a decade. With the opening of The National Trout Center in Preston and a little encouragement from the local Economic Development Authority, Hayner decided to take his passion for fly fishing in the driftless region to the next level. In late 2013, he bought and rehabbed a historic building in Preston, which he turned into a retail fly fishing gear and tackle shop. He also became an Orvis-Endorsed fishing guide. Orvis is the leading standard of excellence in fly fishing. Hayner is currently the only Orvis Endorsed guide in southeast Minnesota.

Since then, business has been steady. “With growing attention to conservation ethics, catch-and-release fishing has become more popular. Fly fishing offers a good method of catch-and-release fishing which results in higher survival of fish caught than other fishing methods,” said Hayner. “In addition, our Orvis Endorsement puts Preston on the international fly fishing destination map. The proximity to Rochester and the Destination Medical Center economic development initiative will only continue to make our area a bigger international destination.”

To meet his already growing demand, Hayner approached SMIF for a working capital loan to expand his operations. In addition to helping him purchase more inventory, Hayner purchased four new kayaks since Driftless also offers canoe and kayak rentals.

“Fly fishing has long been a passion of mine, and SMIF’s loan is helping me bring the sport I love to others,” said Hayner.

“We are excited about this loan, not only because it supports a great local small business, but it helps strengthen the tourism economy of our region,” said SMIF SBA Lending Director Marcia Haley. “Minnesota’s lakes get a lot of attention, but our rivers are pretty great, too! The southeast region has some great rivers, but Driftless is the only Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide operation in the area. Mel and his guides are giving tourists one more way to take advantage of our area’s natural assets.”

For more information on The Driftless Fly Fishing Company, visit, or contact Melvin at 507-327-4276 or If you’re looking to get out on the river, full-day sessions start at $350. Canoe and kayak rentals start at $25 and are designed specially for river fishing with rod holders, stability, tackle storage, and an anchoring system.

SMIF provides a range of finance and management assistance services to start and grow businesses. To learn more, call Marcia Haley at 507-455-3215 or, or visit SMIF is an equal opportunity lender. This loan was funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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