Innovate 218 helping entrepreneurs with many resources |

Innovate 218 helping entrepreneurs with many resources

Updated: May 10, 2021 09:51 PM
Created: May 10, 2021 04:44 PM

Innovate 218, a resource hub for regional entrepreneurs, is now available for the Northland.

The Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) announced the formation of Innovate 218, a regional Launch Minnesota Hub designed to support innovators and entrepreneurs located in Northeast Minnesota.

Funding for Innovate 218 comes from a Launch Minnesota Hub Grant.

“Innovate 218 is truly a region-wide effort, and it would not have been possible without the hard work of many dedicated partners,” said Tamara Lowney, IEDC president. “We’re building an entrepreneurial ecosystem and opening doors to so many incredible opportunities to help business owners start, grow and thrive in northeast Minnesota.”

Early this year, regional economic development partners came together to apply for a Hub Grant through Launch Minnesota. The $60K grant was awarded in January, and IEDC got right to work to bring Innovate 218 to life.

Additionally, Innovate 218 may include an interactive and informative website, Northland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) programming, startup/entrepreneur competitions, a mentorship program, speaker series, and more. Please contact the IEDC to learn more or get involved.

“The Northland SBDC promotes an entrepreneurial culture that is not just responsive but proactive in addressing changing needs in the region,” said Betsy Olivanti, Senior Business Consultant, SBDC. “We’re happy to collaborate with and be a part of the Innovate 218 efforts to ensure our local entrepreneurs have access to the resources and technical assistance they need to move their ideas forward.”

Economic developers and business leaders worked together to make Innovate 218 a reality, creating access to resources, support and financing for regional entrepreneurs. Innovate 218 would not be possible without:

-    Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX)
-    Entrepreneur Fund 
-    The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)
-    Northland SBDC
-    Northland Foundation
-    Growth Innovation
-    City of Duluth
-    Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority (GREDA)
-    Carlton County
-    Northspan
-    MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) – Workforce
-    MN Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR)
-    Itasca Community College
-    Iron Range Makerspace
-    Family Rise Together
-    Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI)

“If you think about a healthy ecosystem in nature, it’s balanced and sustainable. Our regional entrepreneur ecosystem allows each organization to fill a unique niche. We work together, and we’re stronger together,” explained Tim White, NRRI business development manager. “That’s a model for what a good support system looks like, and we’re looking forward to strengthening businesses with access to great resources and support.”

Innovate 218 builds upon the bold, strategic work to position West Central Minnesota and the Greater St. Cloud as go-to regions for entrepreneurs. With more resources closer to home, northeast Minnesota’s entrepreneurs can transform ideas into business plans that drive growth for the entire region. 

ILT Academy is offering an interactive, immersive virtual workshop where participants (of any age) can learn and practice the processes and techniques to define and refine an idea’s core problem, solution, customer and the potential opportunities surrounding that idea. Even the best ideas need to be iterated, explored, and refined before they have a chance at becoming great business ideas. 

Join for the first Innovation Workshop on June 5th, 2021, from 9:00 am - 11:00 am.

Participants will strengthen their innovation skills and learn new methods to unpack, define and formalize their idea.
•    Assess, refine and articulate your business idea.
•    Learn and practice innovation processes.
•    Learn how to gain feedback to refine your idea.
•    Be able to explain your idea in a problem/solution format.
•    Create a 1-page Problem/Solution/Customer document to support the next steps in your startup adventure.

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