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.


Timeline: A Successful $3.1 Million EDA Grant

August 2, 2022

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced in a June 21 press release that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will receive $3.1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support entrepreneurship with the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Business Incubator (TEBI).    The grant application process spanned across two years and involved a wide range of…

age equity mn

Welcoming Community: Age Equity

July 21, 2022

Age often presents a barrier to participating and enjoying community activities and resources to the fullest extent. Disparities exist in health care, employment, housing, community engagement, transportation access, and more.   Initiatives to address age barriers are often focused on elders in our communities, but addressing age discrimination helps to support the full participation of…

Local View: Northland Welcoming Efforts and Events

July 5, 2022

What happens when a community isn’t welcoming? Employees quit. That new family that moved in only stays a year. Population declines, along with economic vitality. A broad range of efforts and events are underway in the Northland right now to foster a more welcoming culture in Northeastern Minnesota. Here are three you might not have…

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