About Us


The Entrepreneur Fund actively partners with entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses. Our service area includes Aitkin, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Stearns and Todd Counties in Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin.


To have vibrant communities across our region that are created and sustained by entrepreneurs.

Core Competency

Our strategic services and flexible financing improves business performance and the capacity of entrepreneurs to achieve growth and start new ventures. We ensure that talent, jobs and wealth stay in the region—and often make a global impact.


Founded in 1989 by Mary Mathews in response to an economic downturn that devastated employment levels in the natural resource industries of northeastern Minnesota, the Entrepreneur Fund was created to promote and foster entrepreneurship throughout the region and in the communities we serve. At inception, classroom training, consulting and loans up to $25,000 were provided for individuals seeking to start a new business.

Our Team


Shawn Wellnitz
Carla Tichy
Michael Lattery
Director of Business Finance
Mike Korte
Director of Business Development
Janie Moore
Development Manager


Stephen Peterson Sr.
Sr. Business Loan Officer
Zack Hoy
Business Loan Officer
Carmen Beardsley
Loan Operations Manager
Aaron Haugen
Credit Analyst
Dawn Hagen
Credit Analyst
Mike Nikstad
Staff Accountant
Andrea Black
Client Support Specialist

Business Consulting

Steve Surbaugh
Business Consultant
Cook County
John Acheson
Business Advisor
Sascha Mansson
EOS Implementer™
Sandi Larson
WBA Director
Sandy Voigt
WBA Director
Little Falls
Andrew Finco
Business Developer
Michael Montgomery
Business Developer
Miranda Kishel
Business Advisor
Iron Range


Maggie Becker
Development Coordinator

Board of Directors

Board Chair:
Chris Fulton
Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation
Grand Rapids, MN

Vice Chair:
John Foucault
Duluth, MN

Past Board Chair:
Diane Weber
Grand Rapids, MN

Robin Rosenbaum
JMR Financial Group
Superior, WI

Megan Erickson Kellin
Lake Time Magazine
Grand Rapids, MN

Don Negley
Rural Living Environments
Babbitt, MN

Jack Ryan
Ryan Financial Group LLC
Hibbing, MN

Chris Deadrick
Dairy Queen
Aitkin, MN

David Manion
CW Technology
Duluth, MN

Mike Holden
Screen Graphics Uniform Connection
Superior, WI

Media Room

Media Contact

Media Contact

The Entrepreneur Fund is always happy to assist news media in covering our organization, regional economy and business topics. For prompt assistance, please contact our media liason, Janie Moore, at 218-623-5735 or janiem@entrepreneurfund.org.

Facts Stories

Facts and Success Stories

Basic information about the Entrepreneur Fund may be found on our About page.

A selection of success stories may be found on our success stories page.

Recent news releases and mentions may be found on our News page.

Photos & Logo

Photos and Logo

To obtain high-resolution photos and logo files, please contact Janie Moore at janiem@entrepreneurfund.org or call 218-623-5735.



The Entrepreneur Fund is happy to work with the media on stories related to our organization, the regional economy (particularly in northeastern Minnesota, central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin), economic development, business expansion, business growth, entrepreneurship and other topics.