Engage & Elevate

Engage & Elevate


To be expert navigators, transforming ideas into accomplishments.

Creative Solutions


Elissa Hansen

Elissa Hansen

President & CEO

Elissa Hansen leads Northspan with more than 20 years of experience in business, community, organizational, and economic development across Minnesota and Wisconsin. She invests her time creatively advancing others’ capabilities. In Elissa’s role at Northspan, she engages with and elevates every client by facilitating tough conversations and moving organizations forward with action-oriented strategic methods. She works to create a setting for meaningful communications that respects diverse perspectives, creates joint resolve, and inspires individual and group action.

A Typical Week

Elissa Hansen

Elissa Hansen

President & CEO

Elissa Hansen invests her time creatively advancing others' capabilities. Recently, she has facilitated strategic planning processes for numerous public, private, and nonprofit organizations in the Upper Midwest. She also spearheaded the creation of the Minnesota Opportunity Collaborative and has worked to expand and enhance Northspan’s programs. She leads Northspan with over 20 years of experience in business and economic development across Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Bob Palmquist

Bob Palmquist

Vice President

Bob Palmquist provides technical and financial assistance to large and small businesses, financial institutions, local units of government, and development organizations. He also provides professional services in the area of succession planning facilitation and valuations to businesses in northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. He spent 17 years in commercial lending prior to joining Northspan in 1991.

Karl Schuettler

Karl Schuettler

Research Director & Senior Consultant

Karl Schuettler manages the Northland Connection program, provides support services to local communities, and researches and analyzes economic trends. In the past year, Karl’s work has included numerous economic analyses, reports on business visit programs, and staffing support for several regional partnerships. He holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota. 


Amanda Vuicich

Associate Consultant & Operations Manager

Amanda Vuicich provides technical and financial assistance for business development clients, supports strategic planning work, and oversees administrative operations for the Northspan team. Over the past year, she conducted numerous business visits, assisted with Northspan’s programs, and assisted clients who use loan fund programs administered by Northspan. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of Minnesota Duluth. 


Ashley Luna

Operations Specialist

Ashley Luna assists in administrative operations for the Northspan team and provides logistical support for regional partnerships. She also works on Northspan powered programs such as Northland Connection, NORTHFORCE, and the Minnesota Opportunity Collaborative.


Innovative Ideas Emerge from Itasca Summit

January 12, 2022

Child care cooperatives. Cutting legislative red tape. Music festivals. Mentor speed dating. Sweat equity boot camps for college gap years.   These are just a handful of ideas that emerged from an Innovation Entrepreneurship and Workforce (IEW) work session facilitated by Northspan’s Elissa Hansen at the Itasca Summit held by the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) on October 19-20, 2021 at…

$60 Million Grant Application Sets Groundwork for Future Collaboration

December 20, 2021

In early November 2021, a coalition of 13 members throughout northeast Minnesota came together to submit a grant application for the federal Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC). Although the application did not make it into the second phase of the grant selection process, which could have brought up to $60…

The Data Behind Arrowhead Real Estate Trends

December 9, 2021

Spiking prices. An exodus to more rural areas. Houses only staying on the market for a few days and buyers paying well above asking prices.   Since the start of the pandemic, rumors of extreme real estate trends have been flying in the Northland. But what do the numbers say?   In July, we surveyed realtors…

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