To be expert navigators, transforming ideas into accomplishments.
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
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 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.
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.
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 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.
2023 Quarter 4 Update DAWN: Driving Access to Wealth & Networks successfully launched this past quarter with an amazing kick-off press event. Northspan partnered with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to host Undersecretary, Don Cravis, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) for a press release and celebration of Native American Heritage month.…
2023 Quarter 4 Update The final quarter of 2023 for the Welcoming Community program was marked by the successful hosting of the Third Annual Equity Summit, Belonging in Northeast Minnesota on October 4, 2023, at the Iron Trail Motors Event Center in Virginia, Minnesota. Participation in this year’s summit rose from approximately 130 in 2022…
2023 Quarter 4 Update In Spring 2023, NORTHFORCE received a grant from Age Friendly Minnesota to create a 43-page document titled Returnships: A Toolkit for Employers. Designed to help employers reach more pools of talent, the Toolkit contains information about creating a returnship program, ideas on how to identify positions that fit well for this…