“A lot of employees that come to us never get to shine anywhere else. It’s an honor to give them a chance. When we talk about giving back to our community, they are front and center.”

– Tamra Kennedy, Taco John’s – St. Paul, MN

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Tamra Kennedy, Taco John’s – St. Paul, MN

Tamra Kennedy always wanted to own her own business.

That path started in 1984 when Tamra found a job in Des Moines, Iowa as a secretary for a gentleman that owned franchises – Taco John’s and Burger King restaurants. Tamra made it her mission to understand more about the restaurants and learn about how the business operates. In 1990, she was offered the opportunity to lead the St. Paul office. Her commitment to those she worked with, and her determination to learn every detail of the business, resulted in her taking ownership of the business in 1990.

Today, Tamra owns and operates seven restaurants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and she is giving back to her community by investing in its people. The countless individuals Tamra has employed over the years often had no opportunity to shine anywhere else – and it’s an honor for her to be able to give them a chance to shine in their own community through selfless acts of giving.

“Giving back to our community is always going to mean something very special. We really believe that the very best contribution we give to our community is a beginning place of employment for young people.”

For Tamra, owning a business is about the opportunity to make an impact on her community and the people who live there: “America’s economy depends on the entrepreneurial spirit. And the economy, by and large, is driven by one person that wants to get up and work and start their own business to create jobs in the neighborhood. It’s about being a contributor to the future, working now to ensure the economy and our neighborhoods – and all the things that we think back fondly about – making sure they never disappear and that they’re still on Main Street.”

Tamra Kennedy is a local business owner, and she is Open for Opportunity.

Chris McCuiston, Goldfish Swim School – Birmingham, MI

When Chris McCuiston does his job, he doesn’t only give a child the opportunity to enjoy backyard pool parties, sailboat cruises, and rope swings over the creek, but he gives them the chance to potentially save their own life. It’s why he and his wife, Jenny, opened Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Michigan in 2006.

Damon Dunn, Dunkin’ – Seattle, WA

When Damon Dunn was growing up in Texas, he didn’t know anyone that owned their own business. Growing up in a family of 10 living in a three-bedroom trailer, Damon learned early in life the value of education, setting himself apart from his peers by excelling in the classroom – eventually attending Stanford University, “I didn’t know anyone who understood how to operate, start, fund, or manage a business. And so, in this environment, in the low socioeconomic status in which I lived, Dunkin’ was not something that was an option because of the lack of information.”