MNwest CEO Forum & Entrepreneur Summit calls on startups, community leaders to connect


Western Minnesota looks to vitalize its startup scene and expand beyond its borders with the inaugural MNwest CEO Forum and Entrepreneur Summit on November 7.

The first-ever MNwest CEO Forum and Entrepreneur Summit is all about propelling early stage startups beyond Western Minnesota’s borders while making important connections within the entrepreneurial community.

Tickets ranging from $15 – $50 are available on Eventbrite, and the event will be held at the Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Fergus Falls.

MNwest is looking for:

  • Innovators and entrepreneurs within the community.
  • Investors.
  • Established business leaders across sectors.
  • Community economic developers.
  • Community leaders and elected officials.
  • Secondary school students and teachers.
  • Post-secondary students and faculty.
  • College/University Presidents & Chancellors.
  • Superintendents and SD Bd Members.
  • Post-secondary Deans and H.S. Principals.
  • Innovation and business start-up competitions and accelerators.
  • Resource organizations.

November 7 will be a jam-packed day starting at 9AM, cramming the forum and summit into just six hours and concluding at 3PM.

Participants who register on or before October 23 are eligible to book hotel rooms at discounted rates.

For those wishing to attend, early bird registration rates end October 20 while showcasing submissions should be sent to Lois Josefson by day’s end on October 25.

Josefson has been a Fergus Falls resident since 1978, and she is “dedicated to helping individuals, businesses, organizations and the communities they call home to realize their full potential.”

Check out the agenda below.

MNwest CEO Forum – AM track one

  • Welcome, Dr. Peggy Kennedy – President Minnesota State Community & Technical College
  • Introductions
  • Business Competitions and Accelerators introduce investment ready companies and outline opportunities for 2018 competition participation: Idea Competition, Cleantech Open–Midwest, Minnesota Cup, E-Fest & Entrepreneurs & Innovators Exchange (EIX)
  • Agricultural Utilization Research Institute – Highlights Developments, Initiatives and Opportunities
  • Featured speakers and discussion:
  • David McMillan, Chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, Senior Vice president of Allete and Executive Vice President of Minnesota Power
  • Roger Moe – Minnesota State Board of Trustees, Member; former MN State Legislator
  • Michael Yost – farmer and former USDA Deputy Secretary for International Trade
  • Discussion of MNwest Entrepreneur Ecosystem Opportunities
  • Conclusion – Adjorn for Lunch, Keynote Address and Afternoon Program

Entrepreneur Summit – AM track two 

  • Convene – Minnesota Innovates
  • “The Entrepreneurial Mindset,” Dr. Matthew Borcherding, Dean of Academic Affairs, Liberal Arts & Sciences, Minnesota State Community & Technical College
  • Entrepreneur Journeys – From Inspiration to Established Business – The Founders of Stoneridge Software Development and Lake Area Docks & Lifts
  • First 3 Years as a Start-up – Critical Success Factors: Business Connections, Research Assistance, Business Management, Start-up and Community Based Financing: Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, AURI, SBA, SBDC & Community Economic Development, MNvest – Community Funded Equity and Debt Financing – Silicon Prairie Online and Kiva Community Funded Debt Financing – Springboard for the Arts
  • Student Entrepreneurship Exposure Opportunities: Post-Secondary – SciTechsperience Internship Program and K-12 – Junior Achievement and CEO
  • Mentorship and Public Awareness – Business Plan Competitions and Accelerators: E-Fest and Entrepreneurs & Innovators Exchange (EIX), Idea Competition, Minnesota Cup, Cleantech Open-Midwest
  • Peer to Peer Networking and Entrepreneur Resource Fair followed by Lunch, Keynote Address and Afternoon Program

Afternoon Agenda – All attendees

  • Lunch
  • Keynote Address: “The Fruits of Focus & Collaboration in Bemidji – Vitality and Economic Growth” – Dr. James BensenPresident Emeritus of Bemidji State University
  • Wayne Dirkman, Quality Circuits, Inc. – MN Business Lifetime Achievement Award – Recognition
  • Networking and Entrepreneur Resource Tables
  • Tech Talk – “Block-Chain – What It Is & Its Multi-Sector Disrupting Implications”
  • Greetings & Comments: Representative Bud Nornes, Chair of Higher Education, MN House of Representatives; David McMillan, U of M Board of Regents; Roger Moe, Minnesota State Board of Trustees
  • MNwest Entrepreneur Meetups & Co-Working Locations Share Insights and Activity Overview
  • Showcase of MNwest Startups
  • Conclusion
  • Tours of the Minnesota State Community & Technical College Campus (Optional)
Timothy Hinchliffe

Tim was born in Wisconsin and raised on both coasts of the US. He is a journalist, editor, and regular contributor on the tech scene. Previously, he was a reporter for The Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America.

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