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
Kristine Barnes
Financial Consultant
Janie Moore
Director of
& Communications
Andrea Black
Director of Business


Stephen Peterson Sr.
Sr. Business Loan Officer
Katherine Johnson
Lending Resource
Matt Warren
Credit Analyst
Nate Kleist
Data Specialist
Jennifer Ford
Business Developer
Zack Hoy
Sr. Business Loan Officer
Aaron Baudeck
Business Loan Officer
Carmen Beardsley
Loan Operations
Aaron Haugen
Credit Analyst
Dawn Hagen
Credit Analyst
Andrew Finco
Business Developer
Mike Korte
Sr. Business Loan
Miranda Kishel
Business Developer
Iron Range


Carter Mentz
Staff Accountant
Mike Nikstad
Staff Accountant

Business Consulting

Stephanie Williams
Business Advisor
Duluth & Iron Range
Char Conger
Business Advisor
Iron Range
Penny Junget
Client Resource
Steve Surbaugh
Business Consultant
Cook County
John Acheson
Business Advisor
Sandi Larson
WBA Director
Sandy Voigt
WBA Director
Little Falls

Development and Communications

Carly Burson
Communications &
Content Manager
Justin Markon
Funding & Compliance Manager
Nick Johnson
Data & Impact Manager
Payton Johnson

Board of Directors

Board Chair:

Board Chair:
David Manion
CW Technology
Duluth, MN

Vice Chair:
Andy Donahue
University of Wisconsin – Superior
Proctor, 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

David Manion
CW Technology
Duluth, MN

Mike Holden
Screen Graphics Uniform Connection
Superior, WI

Andy Donahue
University of Wisconsin – Superior
Proctor, MN

Elizabeth Chapman
Art Unlimited Inc.
Angora, MN

Dustin Goslin
Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures
Onamia, MN

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.

Paul Forti, fourth generation owner of Sunrise Bakery in Hibbing, MN knew that something had to change in order for his family’s over 100-year-old business to survive. With a shifting economy and changing consumer preferences, “the way they’d always done it” wasn’t working anymore.