Northspan specializes in creative thinking, enterprising strategies, and systematic approaches to help businesses, communities, regions, and organizations prosper in a global economy. Our professional staff work cooperatively with economic and community development partners to leverage resources for measurable, sustainable results. As a private, nonprofit consulting firm, we work quietly and confidentially to move projects forward on time and on budget by providing critical, gap capacity support that exceeds client expectations.


Engage & Elevate


To improve the economic well-being of our clients by delivering workable, creative solutions that enhance their effectiveness.

CORE Values

  • Inclusive: We foster respect through intentional engagement of stakeholders and seek common solutions to community, business, and organizational challenges.
  • Trustworthy: We earn the loyalty of our clients by operating ethically, reliably, confidentially and always with integrity.
  • Stewards: We carefully manage the resources entrusted to us and focus on the long-term well-being of our clients and programmatic service areas.
  • Adaptable: We offer a broad range of expertise which enables us to seize new opportunities and tailor our offerings to meet our clients’ needs.
  • Delightful: We provide satisfaction and joy to our clients by delivering excellent customer service and clear results.


Northspan has been a behind-the-scenes force for economic development for more than 30 years. It was born in 1985 as a private, nonprofit organization to offer professional business and community development services. At the time, northeast Minnesota was reeling from a recession, record high unemployment, and a shrinking tax base.

Northspan’s founders chose its name to reflect its broad mission across the Upper Midwest and formed it as a private, nonprofit fee-for-service consulting group to nimbly address issues while remaining committed to its mission.

Northspan then built a team of professionals with broad capabilities that worked without limits imposed by geography or any professional field. Since its inception, Northspan has spearheaded regional partnerships, lent a fresh perspective, and built deep relationships in the communities it serves.


  • ARDC RLF Management Begins (1985)
  • Northspan Offers SBA 7a Services (1985)
  • Arrowhead Business Connection Created (1987)
  • Minnesota Marketplace Created (late 80s)


  • UMFO Created (1996)
  • Carlton County Economic Development Committee Support Begins (1998)


  • Aitkin Iron Works Infrastructure EDA app (2000)
  • LTV Steel Crisis Response (2001)
  • Cirrus Expansion EDA app (2002)
  • Blandin Crisis Response (2003)
  • Minnesota Community Capital Fund Relationship Begins (2003)
  • City of Sandstone Technical Assistance Begins (2003)
  • Duluth Seaway Port Authority Airpark Expansion EDA app (2003)
  • APEX Start-Up Staffing Assistance (2004)
  • ABC Rebrand as Northland Connection & Website Launch (2005)
  • Midtown Global Market EDA app (2005)
  • Duluth Defense Base Realignment and Closure Adjustment Planning EDA app (2005)
  • Cloquet Business Park Infrastructure EDA app (2006)
  • AGA Relationship Begins (2007)
  • Range Readiness Initiative Facilitation (2007)
  • Cohasset Technology and Innovation Center Building EDA app (2007)
  • Duluth Heritage Sports Center EDA app (2008)


  • ARDC RLF Recapitalization (2010)
  • Addition of Valuation and Succession Services (2010)
  • Itasca Eco-Industrial Park Infrastructure EDA app (2010)
  • Essar Site Infrastructure, Nashwauk EDA app (2010)
  • Northern Heights Business Park, Virginia EDA app (2010)
  • Facilitation of Minnesota Power Community Advisory Panels Begins (2011)
  • Go Cook County Facilitation Begins (2012)
  • Boise Crisis Response (2013)
  • NORTHFORCE Created (2014)
  • Sandstone Business Park EDA app (2015)


  • Duluth 1200 Fund Technical Assistance Begins (2016)
  • Addition of SBA 7a Loan Guaranty Sales (2016)
  • GPS 45:93 Relationship Begins (2017)
  • Blandin Crisis Response (2018)
  • Minnesota Opportunity Collaborative Created (2019)

Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Jennifer Wainionpaa

American Bank of the North


Bill Maki

Northeast Higher Education District


Janelle Greschner

Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation


Jeff Borling

Great River Energy


Members at Large

Steve Burggraf

Burggraf’s Ace Hardware & Paint

Arik Forsman

Minnesota Power

Tony Sertich

Northland Foundation

Anna Tanski

Visit Duluth

Mike Larson

Cascade Vacation Rentals

Kiera Wilson

The Lake Bank

Jamie Adams

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa