Executive Director Tamara Prato Leads James J. Hill Center

Tamara Prato leads James J. Hill Center in new directions.

Surrounded by a huge collection of books devoted to all types of business knowledge, novice and experienced entrepreneurs gather regularly in the library of the James J. Hill Center to share business pitches, dispense wisdom and network around their shared desire for success.

At One Million Cups meetings every Wednesday morning, two prospective entrepreneurs have six minutes each to pitch their business idea to the assembled group, and then answer questions and get advice.

Tamara Prato, executive director since April 2016, enjoys seeing these collaborations in action since she wants “the Hill” to be known as a community resource where everyone from business owners to students can do research and connect. All are welcome to attend musical and performance events, known as Culture in the Columns, speakers’ series, workshops and more. The Hill has also become a popular wedding site (they are already booking into 2018) and hosts corporate and other private events.

According to Prato, the Hill will be hosting events specifically geared toward entrepreneur and minority business owners in 2017 with an emphasis on economic development and entrepreneurship. “Our state is changing, and we want people to know that everyone is welcome here,” she says.

The center is in very early planning phases for its 100th anniversary in 2021. For now, the Hill will continue to focus on building community. “We’re a great place to bring people together to have conversations,” she says.

Fun facts about the Hill

  • James J. Hill began his career in shipping and logistics, not in the railroad industry.
  • According to a report written by a Hill librarian in 1961, people from 3M called more than 500 times with research questions.
  • Free tours of the Hill are available on the third Thursday of every month at 10:30 a.m.

Find out more about the Hill and its happenings on their website and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.