About Us


The Entrepreneur Fund actively partners with entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses. Our service area includes Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis 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 creative 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
Meg Thoreson
Director of Strategic Services


Stephen Peterson Sr.
Sr. Business Loan Officer
Zack Hoy
Business Loan Officer
Michele Meier
Loan Portfolio Officer
Carmen Beardsley
Credit Analyst

Business Consulting

Steve Surbaugh
Business Advisor
Cook County
Ian Carlstrom
Business Advisor
Grand Rapids
Julie George
Business Advisor
Sasha Mansson
Women's Business Alliance Director


Amanda Rolfe
Program Coordinator
John Acheson
Client Relationship Manager
Amy Westbrook
Grant Manager

Board of Directors

Board Chair:

Scott R. Bradt
Wells Fargo Bank
Duluth, MN

Vice Chair:

Kelly Klun
Klun Law Firm
Ely, MN


Diane Weber
Grand Rapids, MN


Megan Erickson Kellin
be. Media House
Lake Time Magazine
Grand Rapids, MN

Don Negley
Rural Living Environments
Babbitt, MN

Jack Ryan
Ryan Financial Group
Hibbing, MN

Jason Serck
City of Superior
Superior, WI

Chris Fulton
Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation
Grand Rapids, MN

John Foucault
Points North
Duluth, MN

Robin Rosenbaum
JMR Financial Group
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, Amanda Rolfe, at 218-623-5729 or amandar@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 Amanda Rolfe at amandar@entrepreneurfund.org or call 218-623-5729.




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