Welcoming Community: Entrepreneurial Equity 

Entrepreneurship opportunities can provide economic benefits, while opening space for individuals from diverse backgrounds to experience a sense of connection, belonging, and stability within our region. The ability to access the knowledge and resources to become a successful entrepreneur in Northeast Minnesota provides opportunities for underrepresented community members to find economic security and build wealth. In addition, promoting equitable opportunities in entrepreneurship will improve the diversity and appeal of the businesses and services our region has to offer.  

Considering the relationship between entrepreneurship opportunities and inclusion is essential to understanding a more complete picture of equity across the Northland. See the Resources to Explore section (below) to learn more about some current initiatives and stories around entrepreneurial equity in the Northland. 

Continued Learning  

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide the community with continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly emails, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme. 

The theme for the month of May is Entrepreneurial Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question: 

“In terms of entrepreneurial equity in NE Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?” 

Resources to Explore 


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Uniting for Democracy in the Northland Kick-Off 

On April 30th, 2022, the Uniting for Democracy in the Northland program kicked off with an in-person workshop in Duluth, MN. Participants for the workshop came together from across the region, representing a diversity of generational, racial, and cultural backgrounds along with diverse lived experiences.  

The interactive workshop saw participants learning and practicing constructive dialogue skills, and completing a problem tree analysis of a democracy related problem in the Northland. The problem statement crafted by participants was, “There is low civic engagement of marginalized communities in the Northland.”  

Participants analyzed the causes and effects related to the problem statement, and discussed potential positive outcomes that could occur by addressing one of those causes. A core team, led by Lead for Minnesota fellow Amber Lewis, will continue to meet over the next twelve months to initiate a project in the Northland to address the selected cause.  

“I see the work of addressing democracy-related challenges on a local level as one way that we can begin to create spaces of belonging and inclusion in our region amid the differences that we have, be they cultural, racial, ideological, generational, or a myriad of others,” said Lewis. “At a local and regional level we are best equipped to understand and address the challenges we see in the Northland. By working together on common goals, we can be a catalyst to strengthen the foundations of our communities.”  

Uniting for Democracy in the Northland is being implemented by the local nonprofit consulting firm Northspan and national nonprofits Urban Rural Action and Lead for America. The goal of the program is to build new community relationships across divides and tackle democracy challenges in the Northland.  

Please contact alewis@northspan.org for more information or if you are interested in learning more about the program.  

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Welcoming: In the News! 

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Welcoming Events Across the Northland  

Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some in-person and digital opportunities to explore and participate in! 

Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit proposals to alewis@northspan.org by June 4th, 2022. 

  • Innovate 218: RINK Pitch Competition 
    • Date: May 11th
    • Location: Rapids Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, MN
    • Learn more here  
  • Inclusion Readiness Assessment 
    • Date: Assessment Closes May 13th 
    • Location: Online (Cook County School District, Cloquet School District, Rock Ridge School District) 
    • Learn more here  
  • Native American Entrepreneurial Empowerment Workshop: Bois Forte 
    • Date: May 16th-17th 
    • Location: Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Tower, MN 
    • Register here
  • True Tuesdays: Session 25 – The Fight for Sovereignty: A History of Federal Indian Policy 
    • Date: May 17th 
    • Location: Online 
    • Learn more here  
  • The Lyceum Movement-Duluth Lyceum 
    • Date: May 23rd 
    • Location: Bent Paddle Brewing Co. in Duluth, MN 
    • Learn more here
  • Inaugural Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Summit 
    • Date: May 23rd 
    • Location: Grand Casino Mille Lacs Events & Convention Center in Onamia, MN 
    • Learn more here
  • Celebrate Juneteenth 
    • Date: June 19th 
    • Location: KAXE Rotary Tent in Grand Rapids, MN 
    • Learn more here

Ongoing Events 

  • City of Duluth: Workforce Development Board: Employer Champions Series 
    • Location: Online  
    • Register here
  • Voices for Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness: Northern MN Book Club 
    • Location: Online or In-person 
    • Register here
  • Minnesota Women’s Press Changemakers Alliance 

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Invite a Friend  

If you know others in your community who are interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share so they can learn more & Click Here to join our email list. 

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.