Forging our Entrepreneur Ecosystem

At the Entrepreneur Summit, education, business, government, and community leaders and stakeholders will converge, to focus on creatively fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in our MNwest region.

In these opportunity-rich, technologically transformative times, leaning in together to shape and strengthen our regional entrepreneur ecosystem is important. The Summit brings businesses and communities, idea generators and critical thinking innovators, colleges and high schools together to lean in, with students and startups, in embracing this opportunity!

Join the Journey

Our regional Innovation and Entrepreneurial history is strong. With insights from that foundation, we can and are creating the next Legacy Companies.

Virtually all of us carry an Entrepreneurial Spirit. (Lemonade stands, sweet corn or used toy sales provide early evidence!) If we keep that spirit alive and adopt a positive, problem-solving mindset – an Entrepreneurial Mindset, we can Forge an Entrepreneur Ecosystem in our MNwest region that will benefit all of us and our communities. Let’s do it Together!

Entrepreneur Summit News

Blog Posts with Gather Town agenda updates, speaker and company backgrounds, and regional entrepreneurship stories will be shared frequently in the days ahead. See the first Founder Insights company background blog, which is posted now!

Whether you are invested in your community as a City, County or School Administrator, as a City, County or School Board Elected Official, as a Student, or as a Community Stakeholder from Main Street, from Manufacturing, from the Ag Sector or as a Retiree, the Summit brings pertinent content.

NETWORKING

Make Connections! Talk with company founders, meet Launch MN leadership, learn about
entrepreneurial support opportunities and about funding resources that are available.

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PROGRAM SEGMENTS

Summit content will be concise. The Virtual settings provide the opportunity to hear presenters share lessons learned and experience-based insights during the morning sessions.

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SPEAKERS

The Entrepreneur Summit program is designed to provide all attendees both New Information and Actionable Insights for their businesses, communities and personal life planning.

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MNwest Entrepreneur Summit

Showcasing & Supporting MNwest Startups

Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Virtual – Through Zoom & Gather Town

Bring your coffee, explore Gather Town, meet friends, discover resources and their providers, connect with sponsors and learn about the regional and global reach of Grand Farm and Autonomous Nation!

8:00 – 8:40  (Gather Town will be accessible at 7:30)  Gather Town Link:
https://gather.town/app/YJRa8hp4dwnQlgDa/MNwest%20EntrepreneurSummit

David Neville, President Minnesota innovates, President & Founder Infinity Robotics

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uHxuUvZiQDWg2mpevDkPDw

Dr. Kumara L. Jayasuriya, President, Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU)

  • Scott Marquardt, Senior Vice President, Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF)
  • Kivu Immigration Law – Erin Schutte Wadzinski, Founder – Worthington
  • Action Manufacturing – Tim Swenson, Founder – Marshall
  • D I Labs –  Carl Douglass, Co-Founder – Spicer

Kevin Kouba, Economic Development Manager for Otter Tail Power (Sponsor and Intro)

  • Southwest Private Industry Council – Eriann Faris, Youth Program Manager
  • Cansayapi (Lower Sioux) Community / Cankuya Construction Trades – Jesse Kodet, Educational Coordinator Lower Sioux Agency

The Big Store Fueled Minnesota’s 1st Century – and – Sparked its 2nd ! 

  • Society for the Preservation of Minnesota’s Heritage (SPMH) – Nancy Dilley, Pres. M. Pub. Lib.
  • Area Development of Minnesota (ADOM) – Kevin Anundson – State Farm Insurance
  • Hometown Kitchen and Bath – Nadine Kor, Founder and Proprietor

Main Street Vitality – Representative Chris Swedzinski – District 16A

Historic Reuse – Fiscal Resources – Representative Dean Urdahl – District 18A

Community Planning and Technical Assistance
SW MN Housing Partnership – James Arentson, Architect

Conference fatigue is a common problem for attendees who sit for a long time at meetings and conferences. Muscles tighten and posture becomes slouched.

This affects the brain as much as the body. We encourage you to take five minutes to stand and stretch.

Dr. George Taylor, CIES Director, Professor SMSU, Author: Blessed Strategy

Rebecca Weber, Dean of Student Services, Minnesota West Community & Technical College

Joshua Haag, Principal, Moorhead Area Career Academy

Tom Hoff, Career & Technology Education Program Coordinator, SWWC Service Cooperative

Advancing + Celebrating the Potential of Unlikely Entrepreneurs & The Academic Impact of Middle School Entrepreneur Mindset Curriculum

Gary Schoeniger, Co-Author & CEO, Entrepreneur Learning Initiative, International Speaker

Northwest Minnesota Foundation – Mic McCrory, Program Specialist, SBDC & Idea Competition

  • ILT Studios/Academy, Nick Tietz, Founder & CEO
  • gBETA St. Cloud/Greater MN, Joe Sullivan, Director
  • MN Cup, Jessica Berg, Director

Erica Volkir, Pipestone Chamber of Commerce

Jay Trusty, Executive Director, Southwest Regional Development Commission

Learn more about these Resource Providers and meet them, the presenters we have just heard and greet each other in Gather Town! We will reconvene here on Zoom at 11:25.

  • Shannon Schlecht – Executive Director, Agricultural Utilization Resources Institute (AURI)
  • Bruce Tiffany – Tiffany Family Farms
  • Scott Schwalbe – CEO & Co-Founder Nimbelink
  • Patrick Donohue – Hill Capital Corporation, President & CEO
  • Bruce Gjovig – CEO Emeritus UND Innovation Center & Entrepreneur Coach
  • Steve Perkins – Perkins Consulting
  • Andrew Gag – USDA
  • Tom Geiger – Heritage Bank NA, Chairman and West Central Angel Fund, Investor
  • Zach Robins – Messerli & Kramer
  • Innovative Entrepreneurs of North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota – 150 Years of Impact! Chapter 35:  “Eugene Dahl – Melroe Bobcat 1950, Steiger Tractor 1969”
  • Hiram Drache & Bruce Gjovig, Authors
  • Breakout Valuation – Accessing Capital to Grow, Patrick Donohue, Author

Shane Johnson, Southern Minnesota Region President, Bremer Bank

Lois Josefson, Greater Minnesota Development Services, LLC

Craig Oftedahl, Superintendent, ISD 2184, Luverne & Coordinating Founder of SW MN CEO

Own Social and CEO Pilot
Katie Baustain, Facilitator SW MN CEO and Trevor Laughlin, Co-CreateX Co-Founder

Madison Mercantile – Hometown Magic!
Kristine Shelstad

Lois Josefson, GMDS & David Neville, President, Minnesota Innovates

Glenn Thuringer – Investor Relations & Economic Development Professional

From Enjoyable Interest to SMB – the Journey
Seed & Stem – Lauren Weg – SMSU Alum

SMSU – Student Founders & SMSU Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Dr. George Taylor, Director CIE & Dr. Doug Simon, Sam Walton Fellow Enactus

Invitation to Network in Gather Town at 1:50
Dr. George Taylor, Director Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Alex Cabrera, Possibility Business
Jerry Covington, Director, Minnesota Innovates

2021 CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

CEO Emeritus, Center For Innovation

Bruce Gjovig

Bruce Gjovig

CEO Emeritus, Center For Innovation
CEO & Co-founder, DI Labs

Carl Doulass

Carl Doulass

CEO & Co-founder, DI Labs
Rep., (R) District: 16A

Chris Swedzinski

Chris Swedzinski

Rep., (R) District: 16A
Superintendent, Luverne Public Schools

Craig Oftedahl

Craig Oftedahl

Superintendent, Luverne Public Schools
President, Infinity Robotics

Dave Neville

Dave Neville

President, Infinity Robotics
Rep., (R) District: 18A

Dean Urdahl

Dean Urdahl

Rep., (R) District: 18A
Faculty, Southwest Minnesota State University

Doug Simon

Doug Simon

Faculty, Southwest Minnesota State University
Faculty, Southwest Minnesota State University

Dr. George Taylor

Dr. George Taylor

Faculty, Southwest Minnesota State University
President, Southwest Minnesota State University

Dr. Kumara L. Jayasuriya

Dr. Kumara L. Jayasuriya

President, Southwest Minnesota State University
President, Minnesota West Community & Technical College

Dr. Terry Gaalswyk

Dr. Terry Gaalswyk

President, Minnesota West Community & Technical College
Director, PMO, Grand Farm

Dr. William Aderholdt

Dr. William Aderholdt

Director, PMO, Grand Farm
Youth Program Manager, Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council

Erian Faris

Erian Faris

Youth Program Manager, Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council
Attorney / Owner, Kivu Immigration Law PLLC

Erin Schutte Wadzinski

Erin Schutte Wadzinski

Attorney / Owner, Kivu Immigration Law PLLC
Founder & CEO, ELI

Gary Schoeniger

Gary Schoeniger

Founder & CEO, ELI
Investor Relations Manager, The trū Shrimp Company

Glenn Thuringer

Glenn Thuringer

Investor Relations Manager, The trū Shrimp Company
Executive Director, Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC)

Jay Trusty

Jay Trusty

Executive Director, Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC)
Director, Minnesota Cup

Jessica Berg

Jessica Berg

Director, Minnesota Cup
Director, gBETA Greater MN St. Cloud

Joe Sullivan

Joe Sullivan

Director, gBETA Greater MN St. Cloud
Principal, ISD 152

Josh Haag

Josh Haag

Principal, ISD 152
Facilitator, Southwest Minnesota CEO program

Katie Baustian

Katie Baustian

Facilitator, Southwest Minnesota CEO program
Agent, State Farm Insurance

Kevin Anundson

Kevin Anundson

Agent, State Farm Insurance
Economic Development Manager, Otter Tail Power Company

Kevin Kouba

Kevin Kouba

Economic Development Manager, Otter Tail Power Company
Principal, Greater Minnesota Development Services

Lois Josefson

Lois Josefson

Principal, Greater Minnesota Development Services
Program Specialist - SBDC and IDEA Competition

Mic McCrory

Mic McCrory

Program Specialist - SBDC and IDEA Competition
Owner, Hometown Kitchen & Bath

Nadine Kor

Nadine Kor

Owner, Hometown Kitchen & Bath
President, Friends of the Minnesota Public Library

Nancy Dilley

Nancy Dilley

President, Friends of the Minnesota Public Library
Executive Director, Launch Minnesota

Neela Mollgaard

Neela Mollgaard

Executive Director, Launch Minnesota
Founder + CEO, ILT Studios

Nick Tietz

Nick Tietz

Founder + CEO, ILT Studios
Managing Partner & CEO, Hill Capital Corporation

Patrick Donohue

Patrick Donohue

Managing Partner & CEO, Hill Capital Corporation
Vice President, Southwest Initiative Foundation

Scott Marquardt

Scott Marquardt

Vice President, Southwest Initiative Foundation
Executive Director, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute

Shannon Schlecht

Shannon Schlecht

Executive Director, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute
Principal, Perkins Consulting

Steven Perkins

Steven Perkins

Principal, Perkins Consulting
Owner, Action Manufacturing

Tim Swenson

Tim Swenson

Owner, Action Manufacturing
Heritage Bank NA, Chairman and West Central Angel Fund, Investor

Tom Geiger

Tom Geiger

Heritage Bank NA, Chairman and West Central Angel Fund, Investor
Career and Technical Project Coordinator, SWWC

Tom Hoff

Tom Hoff

Career and Technical Project Coordinator, SWWC
Catalyst / VP R&D / Co-Founder, CoCreateX, Inc.

Trevor Laughlin

Trevor Laughlin

Catalyst / VP R&D / Co-Founder, CoCreateX, Inc.

CEO Emeritus, Center For Innovation

Bruce Gjovig

Bruce Gjovig is CEO Emeritus (since 2017) and was Founder, CEO and Entrepreneur Coach of the UND Center for Innovation Foundation, a program focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, private investment, and the entrepreneur ecosystem.

Launched in 1984, under his leadership the Foundation became one of the premier venture development organizations in the world. It received 18 national and international awards for excellence and was one of just six entrepreneur centers nationwide featured for best practices and outstanding performance of venture development organizations. In March 2017, the Center received three international awards, two of particular note: the InBIA Mixed-Use Business Incubator of the Year and the Dinah Adkins Technology Incubator of the Year Awards. Both worldwide awards were for best incubator exemplifying overall excellence and serving as the leading model for others to follow when serving innovators and entrepreneurs. Gjovig built a world-class program out of UND. From 2006 to 2017, the two incubators were certified six times as a “Soft Landings International Incubator” from InBIA, just one of 31 incubators worldwide – and among the first six – for being business friendly to international entrepreneurs entering a foreign market. Gjovig raised over $33 million for the Center for Innovation Foundation and helped launch one of the nation’s first Schools of Entrepreneurship.

In 2008, Sir Gjovig was presented with the Knight of the First Class, Royal Norwegian Order of Merit by HM King Harald V of Norway for 25 years of educational and business exchanges with Norway. In 2014, he was presented the national Ronald Reagan Award for his 30 years of promoting free enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship. He has two degrees from the University of North Dakota. Today, he is heavily invested in helping North Dakota become the national leader in the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the energy, transportation and agricultural sectors and serves as a strategic advisor to Grand Sky, the nation’s first drone airport and first drone tech park. In 2010 he was co-founder of the North Dakota Bioscience Association of North Dakota and continues to serve as chairman of the board to help grow the bioscience industry in North Dakota. Since 2016, he has been one of 30 Civic Leaders appointed by the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Air Force, serving as an advisor and advocate for our nation’s Air Force and Space Force.

Gjovig is the author of six books, the last two are the Innovative Entrepreneurs from North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota, and the Innovative Entrepreneurs from North Dakota, both available at www.DakotaBooknet.com

CEO & Co-founder, DI Labs

Carl Doulass

Carl Douglass is the CEO and co-founder of DI Labs and is responsible for business development, marketing, and strategic growth initiatives. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Carl worked as an engineering executive for a national plastics manufacturer. He has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Ohio Northern University and an MBA from the U of M Carlson School of Business.

Rep., (R) District: 16A

Chris Swedzinski

Legislative Assistant: Chelsea Axelson 651-296-9302
Committee Assignments:
– Republican Lead Climate and Energy Finance and Policy
– Taxes
Biographical Information:
Home: Ghent
Phone: 507-829-7754
Occupation: Farmer
Education: B.S., history, Minnesota State University, Mankato; B.S., political science, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Elected: 2010
Term: 6th
Family: Married, spouse Jessica, 5 children

Superintendent, Luverne Public Schools

Craig Oftedahl

President, Infinity Robotics

Dave Neville

Dave Neville is the President of Infinity Robotics. Infinity Robotics specializes in machine vision/AI for automation and robotics. As a Robot Integrator, they possess an in-house machine shop and bare metal embedded HW/SW product design. He is a Kawasaki Preferred Partner, Stäubli Distributer, OnRobot distributer, Ready Robotics Partner who helps customers navigate the Cobot and Industrial Robot space. IR also carries KUKA, ABB, Fanuc, Yaskawa, Adept, Techman, and UR robots.

Mr. Neville started building mobile robots before robot clubs were a thing.  As an Engineering Headhunter, he has tracked machine vision and robot technology for over 20 years.  With AI and Vision advancing to the practical application he started Infinity Robotics; Automation, Vision & beyond.  As a sales and executive technologist, he assimilates the best-in-class technologies for your solution.

Rep., (R) District: 18A

Dean Urdahl

Legislative Assistant: Jennifer Goblirsch 651-297-2904
Committee Assignments:
– Republican Lead Capital Investment
– Education Policy
– Legacy Finance
Biographical Information:
Home: 54880 – 253rd St. Grove City, 56243
Phone: 320-857-2600
Occupation: Author, retired educator
Education: B.S., social studies, St. Cloud State University
Elected: 2002
Term: 10th
Family: Married, spouse Karen, 3 children

Faculty, Southwest Minnesota State University

Doug Simon

Dr. Doug Simon has been a member of the Southwest Minnesota State University faculty since 1998.  He holds a number of degrees, including a Ph.D. in Sociology with a specialization in Social
Organizations, a Masters of Law (LL.M) in Military Law, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in Law, and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) in Public Administration. Dr. Simon has held fellowships with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the University of Texas, Austin, with the latter studying national security, intelligence, and cyber law. Dr. Simon’s teaching interests include business and constitutional law, policy, and leadership.  Dr. Doug Simon has written or presented on topics that include military law and leadership, environmental policy, persistence behavior, community-based engagement, and veteran civic engagement.  Dr. Simon currently serves as the Sam Walton Fellow for SMSU ENACTUS, a 501(c)(3) student-led organization that connects the classroom with national and international community-based service-learning. Alongside his academic career. Dr. Simon serves as Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for the State of Minnesota, holding the rank of colonel. In this position, Dr. Simon is the principal legal advisor to The Adjutant General and senior leadership within the Minnesota National Guard. Dr. Simon has deployed two times. His first deployment was in 2003, where he served as the International Law Attorney for Operation Joint Forge, SFOR 14, a mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and second, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008-2009, serving as a Brigade Judge Advocate for the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Faculty, Southwest Minnesota State University

Dr. George Taylor

Dr. George Taylor arrived at Southwest Minnesota State University in August 2020.  He holds several degrees, including a Doctorate in Management (Organizational Leadership), a Master of Business Administration (Information Systems Technology Management), and is currently pursuing a PhD in Education Leadership. He is also certified as a Senior Professional Human Resources Professional (SPHR), Senior Certified Partner in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP) and is a lifetime Certified Professional Coach (CPC). Dr. Taylor’s teaching interests include organizational development, leadership, and entrepreneurship.  He is an active researcher for the OK Center for Education Policy, a think-tank center that focuses on state and national education policies.
Dr. Taylor is a published author and frequent speaker in research conferences and symposiums. He is the author of a popular book entitled Blessed Strategy. Prior to teaching, Dr. Taylor served a distinguished enlisted-to-officer career in the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Navy, he was assigned as a task force team leader and member for several high-level strategic initiatives to include Sea Warrior, a human capital initiative that transformed the Navy’s HR processes. Dr. Taylor has a strong record of entrepreneurship and business coaching and was a Leadership Fellow for Memphis in 2004 (Leadership Academy Memphis) where he served on various citywide initiatives. Dr. Taylor is married with three adult children. He loves to travel, workout, and spend time with his wife.

President, Southwest Minnesota State University

Dr. Kumara L. Jayasuriya

Dr. Jayasuriya has enjoyed a distinguished academic career and points to himself when he talks about the transformative power of higher education. He quit high school on two occasions, but with the urging of his mother, returned. Years later, he is now the president of SMSU. President Jayasuriya has proven himself to be an inspirational leader who works collaboratively and transparently. He speaks with enthusiasm about SMSU’s potential and his hopes that the entire University community will help spread the word about what an outstanding college choice SMSU can be for potential students.

President Jayasuriya and his wife Salmini (Sal) are the parents of three children: Daniel, who is attending medical school at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia; Dylan, who is also attending medical school at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia and Devon, who is a ninth grader at Marshall Public High School.

President, Minnesota West Community & Technical College

Dr. Terry Gaalswyk

Dr. Terry Gaalswyk serves as President of Minnesota West Community & Technical College. Dr. Gaalswyk has over 20 years of service in higher education including appointments as a mathematics instructor, division chair, associate dean of instruction, dean of instruction, and executive vice president. He has served at Southeast Technical Institute, South Dakota State University, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Iowa State University, and most recently at Western Nebraska Community College. Dr. Gaalswyk believes in the mission of community & technical colleges and is committed to serving rural communities in service to this mission, our students, high schools, and industry partners.

Dr. Gaalswyk holds a BA in mathematics from Northwestern College, a masters degree in Vocational/Technical Education and a master’s degree in mathematics – both from South Dakota State University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership/Policy Studies from Iowa State University. He is equally proud of his vocational background, having worked alongside his parents building custom countertops and cabinets in family-owned business in Sibley, IA.

Director, PMO, Grand Farm

Dr. William Aderholdt

Dr. William Aderholdt is the Director of Program Management Office at Grand Farm Research and Education Initiative. Grand Farm Research and Education Initiative (“Grand Farm”), a North Dakota 501(c)(3) non-profit that accelerates collaboration and innovation to develop technologies for the farm of the future. William oversee the technology and projects at Grand Farm, bringing together organizations from around the world to demonstrate, research, and develop innovations in agriculture technology.

Youth Program Manager, Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council

Erian Faris

Eriann has worked for the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council (PIC) providing youth and young adult employment and training services for 15 years in various wonderful and
challenging capacities. Eriann’ s focus and interests have always been working with students, schools, and local employers. This has granted the opportunity to implement many programs
and services at the PIC for youth, collaborating and partnering with several community partners. Eriann is responsible for sustainability, data collection, and reporting of all youth-related programming and is well-versed in fiscal controls and project reports. In addition, PIC has consistently had excellent outcomes, and with the oversight of Eriann as the Youth Program
Manager.

Attorney / Owner, Kivu Immigration Law PLLC

Erin Schutte Wadzinski

Erin Schutte Wadzinski is an immigration attorney and owner of Kivu Immigration Law PLLC in her hometown of Worthington, Minnesota. Erin is 2020-2021 recipient of the Initiators Fellowship, which helped her launch her social enterprise law firm. Erin holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and received her law degree from University of Connecticut School of Law. Prior to moving back to the Midwest, as a Woodbridge Fellow Erin played a leading role in establishing the Yale Young Global Scholars Program.

Founder & CEO, ELI

Gary Schoeniger

Author and Entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger is an internationally recognized thought leader in the field of entrepreneurial mindset education. His message has influenced a broad audience from academic institutions and economic development organizations to government and non-profit clients worldwide, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute, the Colombian Ministry of Education, the U.S. State Department, and the European Commission.

As the Founder and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, Gary led the development of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, which the Kauffman Foundation has recognized as “redefining entrepreneurship education in classrooms and communities around the world.”

Investor Relations Manager, The trū Shrimp Company

Glenn Thuringer

Glenn P. Thuringer – In February of 2020 in joined The tru Shrimp Company in Balaton, MN (SW MN) as the Investor Relations Manager. I very much enjoy the position and the people I get to work with. I lead the local and regional effort to raise the money to build our first Harbor (a $300+ million project) where we will raise shrimp in-doors in shallow water. The company has spent 5 plus years and over $55 + million on research and testing. The project is 100% ready for full commercialization. Once the funds are raised I will transition to a BZ development position to launch the Chitin/Chitosan coproduct. It is exciting to think we will be raising high quality shrimp on the prairie where they will be eat high quality soybeans also raised on the prairie!

My experience and strengths are in business development sales and management, distribution (including international), new product development and fund raising.
Most recently I was the President of Bioverse, Inc., a microbial based company focused on pond water remediation (golf courses) along with agricultural uses. Previously – for 14 + years I was the Manager of Economic Development and Membership Services for Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration with specialization in Management; Minor in Agri-Business from Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, SD. In addition I am certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council and for 10 years was a consultant for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) working with business start-ups & current business expansions. I have over 10 years in the banking and financing field with extensive experience in structuring complex business plans and financial projections to attract financing.

Executive Director, Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC)

Jay Trusty

Jay Trusty has served as the Executive Director of the SRDC since 2001. The SRDC is a nine county Regional Development Commission covering the far southwest corner of Minnesota, bordering on both Iowa and South Dakota. The SRDC is a federally designated Economic Development District that provides community, physical and economic development services. Previously, Jay was Community Health Services Administrator for Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone Public Health Services, a four county joint powers agency also in southwest Minnesota. He has served as a Board Member of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership and the National Association of Development Organizations, (NADO) and is currently Chair of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition. Jay holds a Bachelor of Science degree in government from St. John’s University and a Master of Science degree in special studies: public administration from St. Cloud State University. Jay served as a Chemical Operations Specialist in the United States Army Reserve from 1981-1984 and as a Combat Engineer Officer from 1984-1994.

Director, Minnesota Cup

Jessica Berg

Director, gBETA Greater MN St. Cloud

Joe Sullivan

Joe comes to gener8tor after graduating from Saint John’s University in 2020. There he grew a passion for entrepreneurship through the Donald McNeeley Center for Entrepreneurship and its extensive programs. Joe spent his senior year as an Associate for the Greater MN-St.Cloud’s gBETA and gALPHA inaugural programs. He also spent his time in college working at a venture capital firm, an e-commerce start-up, and an actuarial consulting firm. Between graduating and coming back to gener8tor, Joe spent his time as a fund accountant where he serviced multi-billion-dollar hedge funds.

Joe is excited to be back with the gener8tor team working to grow the Greater MN-St.Cloud community. As a Marshall, MN native he is passionate about building a culture of support for founders across Minnesota.

Principal, ISD 152

Josh Haag

Mr. Haag was selected to lead the Moorhead Area Career Academies this summer. Prior to being named principal of MACAs, Mr. Haag was an assistant principal at Moorhead High School. Mr. Haag is tasked with creating a team of teachers and industry partners to develop the Moorhead Area Career Academies, allowing area students a chance to explore career interests in seven proposed pathways, as shown below.

Facilitator, Southwest Minnesota CEO program

Katie Baustian

Hi I am Katie Baustian and I am excited to be the facilitator for the Southwest MN CEO program. I live in Luverne with my husband Pat. We have four kids, two in college and two in high school. I graduated, a long time ago, from the University of South Dakota with a degree in elementary education. I have been a substitute teacher, coach and volunteer in area school districts. For the past twelve years I have been the Director of Faith Formation at St. Catherine Church in Luverne. I have always enjoyed working with youth and watching where their journey in life will take them. I am a member of the Luverne School board as well as the Rock County Food shelf. I enjoy serving others in my community.

Agent, State Farm Insurance

Kevin Anundson

1969 – Hanley falls grade school grad
1978 – Cottonwood Public school grad
1982 – SMSU Grad
1984 to Present – State Farm Insurance

Economic Development Manager, Otter Tail Power Company

Kevin Kouba

  • Native of Towner, ND
  • Graduated from Towner High School 1977
  • Attended Minot State College
  • Graduated with a BS in Accounting in 1982
  • Credit Manager at Cenex in Rugby from 1982-1984
  • Began employment with Otter Tail in 1984
  • Has held various positions with Otter Tail, including Cashier, Accounting Assistant, Office Manager, and Area Manager prior to being named Economic Development Manager in 2020.
  • Married to Terri Kouba for 39 years
  • Have lived in Milbank, SD since 1994.
  • Three adult children. Two sons live in the Fargo, ND area and daughter living in Venice, CA

Principal, Greater Minnesota Development Services

Lois Josefson

I am dedicated to helping individuals, businesses, organizations, and the communities they call home to realize their full potential; and, in so doing, their efforts will advance the strength of our economies – making the lives of each of us better while laying the foundation for a quality future for the next generations.

Program Specialist - SBDC and IDEA Competition

Mic McCrory

Mic McCrory is a program coordinator for the SBDC. He serves as an initial point of contact for SBDC clients and helps to connect clients with consultants and other introductory resources. He is also the primary event organizer for the IDEA Competition. Mic joined the SBDC team in 2019. Before that, he was working as a Development Officer at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. Prior to that role, he spent most of his career in sales and marketing in the private sector.

Owner, Hometown Kitchen & Bath

Nadine Kor

Nadine Kor is the owner of Hometown Kitchen & Bath. She has been in the Interior design business for 34 years with a focus on kitchen and bath design. She loves helping her clients make their homes everything they want them to be. She grew up in Minnesota and lives there now with her husband, Dennis. She has been married for 29 years and has 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

She is an Interior Design graduate of Alexandria Technical College.

President, Friends of the Minnesota Public Library

Nancy Dilley

Nancy Dilley has worked as an archaeologist and a librarian. These experiences melded when she joined the newly established Friends of the Minneota Public Library (FOL) in 2003. The FOL’s goal was to refurbish the historic O.G. Anderson & Company Store building as the new home of the public library.  The library opened in 2015.  The preservation of the building and the second floor Opera Hall continue…

Executive Director, Launch Minnesota

Neela Mollgaard

My career has involved bringing people together to create change. I have been a leader and facilitator of organization and community innovation. Most recently, I was a founder of the nonprofit Red Wing Ignite, which supports entrepreneurs, businesses, and students to succeed in the 21st-century economy. We created a model, that received national attention, developing an innovative ecosystem by forging partnerships with government, academic, corporate, and community partners.

I am excited to serve Minnesota and build on what I’ve learned. Together, we will bring opportunity, access, and exposure to our innovation economy.

Innovator | Ecosystem Builder | Connector | Community Engagement | Change Agent

Founder + CEO, ILT Studios

Nick Tietz

Nick Tietz has spent the last 15 years working as a serial entrepreneur, innovator, technologist, user experience designer, business, and technology consultant. Nick has designed more than 100 apps, crafted the strategy to help redefine the public education experience at Minneapolis Public Schools, and led multiple innovation efforts at Life Time Fitness to improve the employee experience and define the health club of the future as the Director of Innovation. Most recently Nick was the Co-Founder of Vitals Aware Services and launched a new technology service to help people with visible and invisible disabilities communicate with First Responders (Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMT).

Additionally, He has spent the past decade donating his time and creative services at multiple non-profits including The Nairobi Leadership Foundation, The Uganda Leadership Foundation, PACER Center, where he has served on their Marketing Advisory Board, producing communication videos and helping with the production of their annual benefit. Nick has also served on the board for Playworks Minnesota, Alternatives-A program for inner-city youth, StudiOne Eighty at Urban Ventures, and both Totino-Grace High School and St. Vincent DePaul School advisory boards.
Nick is very passionate about helping others become the best version of themselves. Currently, Nick is the Founder and CEO of ILT Studios and their second startup called ILT Academy. Together they are focused on supporting underestimated innovators and entrepreneurs to building companies in underserved geographies that change people’s lives, so profoundly they can’t imagine living any other way.

Managing Partner & CEO, Hill Capital Corporation

Patrick Donohue

Patrick Donohue is CEO and founding shareholder of Hill Capital Corporation. Hill Capital makes direct investments up to $1 million directly into growth-oriented companies throughout the Great Northern Region. The fund has interacted with 100s of established small businesses and has invested $5 million in 6 companies during the past eighteen months.

Patrick’s expertise is in cash forecasting and valuations. He has over twenty years of capital markets experience including public and private market investing, corporate development, financial modeling, investment research publication and investment banking. Patrick holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, is a board member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Minnesota and a founding community organizer of 1 Million Cups Eden Prairie.

Full Bio: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickedonohue/

Vice President, Southwest Initiative Foundation

Scott Marquardt

Scott Marquardt is Vice President of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, a regional community foundation serving 18 counties in southwest Minnesota. Scott joined the Foundation in 2007 and is engaged in its economic development programs including business finance, entrepreneurship, and general economic development, in addition to serving as lead staff to the Investment Committee and Farmland Program.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Scott was Economic Development Director for the City of Montevideo, Minnesota, where he managed economic development projects and programs related to business retention and expansion, housing, business recruitment, community marketing, business finance, commercial building rehabilitation, and other special projects.

Scott currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Nonprofits Assistance Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) based in Minneapolis, in addition to serving as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership. He is also a member of the Blandin Foundation Broadband Strategy Board, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Education and Certification Advisory Committee, and the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM) Conference Committee.

He received Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of South Dakota, in addition to being a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the IEDC and a certified Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council.

Executive Director, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute

Shannon Schlecht

Shannon M. Schlecht, Executive Director of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is responsible for the overall strategic and operational oversight for the organization’s staff, programs, and execution of its mission. AURI provides technical services to businesses, conducts applied research initiatives, and convenes networking events to create value-added economic opportunities for the food and agriculture sector. AURI operates two laboratories and its dedicated staff assist industry participants on over 150 food and agricultural innovation projects each year to further the Institute’s mission of fostering long-term economic benefit for Minnesota through value-added agricultural products.

He is currently a director for the Ag Innovation Campus, an advisor to the University of Minnesota Food Science and Nutrition Department, represents AURI on the MBOLD Executive Council where he co-leads the Innovation and Entrepreneurship collaborative projects, is a mentor for the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, and is a trustee for the North Dakota State University Foundation.

He holds Bachelors and Master of Science degrees in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.

Principal, Perkins Consulting

Steven Perkins

Steven is a proactive, people-oriented person with “hands-on” experience and demonstrated accomplishments in all management facets of the private and public sectors. A goal-driven tenacious volunteer for health care and charity that believes leaders must set the example for organizational and societal collaborative action.

 Click for resume

Owner, Action Manufacturing

Tim Swenson

Tragedy can give birth to a myriad of responses, fortunately for the disabled, Tim Swenson’s response was inspiration, compassion, and motivation to serve his son and others who were disabled.
In 2007 Tim and Donna Swenson’s son, Jeff suffered a spinal cord injury in a one vehicle rollover. After months of recovery and therapy, Tim’s focus was to see that this disability didn’t prevent Jeff from participating and enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle.
Being a motor sports dealer for over twenty years, Tim focused his energy on creating a mobility product that would allow the disabled to go beyond the paved path and get back into the woods, prairies, and mountains, giving them an opportunity to hike, hunt, fish, and camp with family and friends. More importantly giving them back more than just mobility but the freedom to decide for themselves-when to go, and where to go.
That dedication led to the creation of the Action Trackchair, a twin tracked, electric wheelchair with the power and traction to traverse grass, mud, sand, and snow, to climb and forge water. A network of distributors and local dealers were established to tell the Trackchair story and introduce the product. Dealers now cover all fifty states and seven foreign countries.
There are four base models, and two FDA chairs, that come in various sizes, with more than a dozen colors available, and a host of accessories that allow users to custom build their chair to match their intended uses, hobbies, and style.
From the beginning disabled veterans have made up a significant percentage of users. Programs, like the Independence Fund, and Semper Fi have sprung up to provide deserving veterans with Chairs. Similar groups have formed to serve disabled children, and First Responders. Additional groups have stepped forward to raise funds for the Nation’s State Parks. Youth camps, fishing and hunting camps, along with resorts and others in the hospitality industry that have come to recognize the importance of meeting the needs of disabled participants.
Since the introduction of the Trackchair, and the innovative Trackstander that allows users to power up into a standing position for tasks better suited to standing, all the while retaining the ability to move about. Acton Manufacturing, Inc. has added the Trackporter, with applications in the livestock Industry. Robotics, exploring opportunities in Mining, Construction, law enforcement, public safety, and the military. Exciting products are being developed in the growing area of aquaculture. Most recently Action Manufacturing has ventured into the medical field, with a physical therapy device conceived by doctors in the Veterans Administration.
Through its history Action Manufacturing has remained true to its rural roots, sourcing materials and components from American providers, hiring talented area workers, and supporting local projects

Heritage Bank NA, Chairman and West Central Angel Fund, Investor

Tom Geiger

Tom Geiger is the Chairman and CEO of Heritage Bank NA. Heritage is an employee-owned national bank specializing in business banking and mortgage lending throughout the upper Midwest. Tom joined bank leadership at Heritage 25 years ago. Prior to banking, Tom had a career in business development within the agricultural processing sector.

Tom is also an investor with the West Central Angel Fund, since 2017. West Central Angel Fund is a Willmar, Minnesota-based fund focused on early to mid-stage investments in private companies demonstrating the potential for sustainable, profitable growth. The fund seeks investment opportunities in Minnesota-based high-technology and growth businesses in any industry.

Career and Technical Project Coordinator, SWWC

Tom Hoff

Tom Hoff is the Career and Technical Project Coordinator at the SWWC, a regional educational service agency that serves 50+ schools in southwest and west central Minnesota. He has been partnering with colleges, agencies, schools, and businesses for 25 years to provide unique enrichment opportunities for k-12 students. Currently he is leading the LYFT Career Pathways project to rebuild career and technical education programs in rural high schools.

Launch Your Future Today (LYFT) Pathways is a rural career and technical education (CTE) initiative with the purpose of rebuilding CTE in southwest and west central Minnesota. The goal of LYFT Career Pathways is for every secondary student in the region to gain marketable skills through meaningful CTE courses and opportunities, which lead to further education and careers that match our region’s labor market needs.

Catalyst / VP R&D / Co-Founder, CoCreateX, Inc.

Trevor Laughlin

Trevor is a passionate engineer, product designer, and maker. He studied mechanical engineering and product design at the University of Minnesota, where he trained at the Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center on the Medical Device Innovation Process. He is a Co-Founder of CoCreateX, a company dedicated to empowering collaborative innovation. He is also a Co-Founder of Marrow Access Technologies, an Orthopedic Medical Device company.

CoCreateX is empowering communities to fly their own flags with the OwnSocial™ networking platform. OwnSocial™ connects websites across the internet to each other to enable efficient, relevant cross-pollination of posts and people. Starting in Minnesota, CoCreateX aims to help connect greater communities by fostering innovation, collaboration, and gratitude.

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