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.


Featured Partner: Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation

September 27, 2023

The Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation is a state of Minnesota economic development agency that reinvests local taconite production taxes back into northeastern Minnesota businesses and communities in order to strengthen and diversify the economy. The agency provides vital funding, including low or no interest loans, and loan guaranties to businesses relocating or…

Welcoming Community: Nutrition Equity

September 25, 2023

In recognition of multiple September observances related to nutritious foods, including National Fruit and Veggies Month and Whole Grains Month, nutrition equity is the focus of this month’s Welcoming Community newsletter. Nutrition equity involves ensuring that everyone, regardless of factors such as income, location, or background, has access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. The…

Ecosystem Thinking: A Northspan White Paper

September 14, 2023

As a field, economic development has long recognized the benefits of businesses in clusters working together to support one another. How strange, then, that we often fail to fully implement the insights that underlie these theories in our own work. Now more than ever, regional cooperation is the most fundamental building block for successful economic…

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