Hibbing opens first co-working space – so maybe you can extend your next trip?

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation’s newsletter, The Ranger reports…

Entrepreneur Karine Woodman established TechTank, Hibbing’s first co-working space that is shared by several workers from different organizations and companies. The arrangement enables cost savings for the member occupants through common infrastructure related to utilities, broadband and office equipment.

Woodman purchased a 3,500-square-foot building near the city’s downtown business corridor to launch TechTank. She completely renovated the interior and exterior and utilized a Business Energy Retrofit (BER) grant to help pay for upgrades to the HVAC systems.

TechTank members have access to contemporary work spaces, fiber optic internet, printing services, private rooms, conference rooms with meeting tools such as TVs, teleconference equipment and whiteboard walls. There is free parking, indoor and outdoor collaboration space and educational events. Monthly, daily and yearly memberships are available, and members have round-the-clock access to the secure work space. Two conference rooms are also available for half and full-day rental with seating to accommodate up to 16 people.

According to Small Business Trends, experts estimated that 1,000 new co-working spaces opened in the United States during 2018, and almost 700 are expected to open by the end of this year.

Neela Mollgaard focuses on capital, culture and talent at Launch Minnesota

It’s always fun to see a friend in the news – for doing well. Neeela Mollgaard, former head of Red Wing Ignite, was involved in the Blandin Broadband Communities program for Red Wing and was on the MN Broadband Task Force. So she’s pretty well known with the Blandin broadband team. I was delighted to see her move to Launch Minnesota; Neela was recently highlighted in Finance and Commerce

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced in August that Neela Mollgaard, founder of the Red Wing Ignite entrepreneurship group, is the inaugural leader for Launch Minnesota. A public-private partnership created by the Legislature this year, Launch Minnesota offers grants, mentorship resources and other assistance to the end of making Minnesota a top-five state for startups.

They asked questions about her background…

Q: You came here from Red Wing Ignite. What led you to start that program, and what did you do there?

A: I was really fortunate to be part of a small grassroots effort back in 2012. Our city had gigabit broadband, and we had just received a 2012 National Partnership with US Ignite, which is a nonprofit that was funded by the White House and the National Science Foundation. I worked for about a year as a volunteer, trying to bring the vision to reality, and then in 2013, I threw my name in the hat to lead that organization. We created Red Wing Ignite as a model really for rural innovation, and feel proud that it has received national attention.

And her future…

Q: As you’re standing up this new program, what are some of your goals in the first year?

A: Our three goals that I’m focusing on are capital, culture and talent. For capital, I want to increase access to capital through grants and private investors. We’ve just launched our innovation grants to increase capital to startups, and then also working to increase private investors with the angel tax credits and other ways. Regarding our talent, our goal is to provide education to increase the knowledge needed to start and scale startups in Minnesota.

Then the third goal is really trying to foster a collaborative culture to simplify the navigation of resources to save our startups time, which is a valuable resource. We want to make sure that startups know where they can go to plug in when they have an idea, and on that whole roadmap from idea to launch, what organizations and individuals are there to help them along the way.

Tekne Awards – the Oscars of MN Tech world – lots of winners & good advice

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the 2019 Tekne Awards. I brought my 15 year old, who is interested in STEM. It was fun to watch it from her eyes. She was excited to hear about what each company was doing and even more interested in hearing about the undergraduate scholarships. Great to see the lineup of recipients with diversity of age, gender, ethnicity. Some were first generation college attendees (and first generation Americans), some were parents, some looked same age as my daughter. But you could see the impact of the funding and the prestige of an MHTA scholarship.

Phil Soran graciously received a lifetime award for his entrepreneurship and generosity. He had advice for the room. For entrepreneurs he said – focus on go-to market. For established businesses he said – make room and opportunity for the up and comers. To everyone he sad – strive. Two public servants received awards – Steve Grove at the Department of Employment and Economic Development and Senator Eric Pratt. These awards emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in all facets of technology, economic development and education.

I want to give a special congratulations to PCs for People for their award. They have been long time partners with the Blandin Foundation on many projects. Lots of first-time computer owners in rural Minnesota can thank PCs for People and the Blandin Foundation and that’s where entrepreneurship starts – with a computer at home, whether it’s selling your art on Etsy or, like Mr Soran, building a billion dollar business in your basement!

Because in MN we can all be winners (or at least finalists), here’s the list of possible winners going into last night…

Categories and finalists for the 2019 Tekne Awards are: Continue reading

Rural Entrepreneurs need better broadband

A theme is emerging for my day. Earlier I wrote about how rural students need better broadband to prepare for college. And now Inc Magazine is talking about how entrepreneurs need better broadband…

“High-speed internet is such a powerful tool, which seems like a crazy thing to say–unless you don’t have access to it,” said Wayne Reilly, president of Creative TRND USA division. Reilly started his entrepreneurial journey in Post Falls, Idaho. “Even in the middle of Antarctica, with a good Wi-Fi signal you can succeed. With the right resources, you can achieve global success from any small town.”

Of course, faster download speeds won’t make Americans lock arms, forget all our differences, and become a more united country.

Political division has only grown as more of the country’s citizens feel structurally locked out of economic opportunity. If you’re a smart kid growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, in 2019, you have access to learning opportunities and information your parents never dreamed of. That doesn’t mean every kid growing up in the suburbs of Dallas will succeed–far from it–but it does mean you have access to the tools modern humans need to be economically competitive.

If you’re a kid growing up in Dallas, Arkansas?

It’s a different story.

The article recognizes that broadband isn’t a cure-all – but it can help and it can help right away…

Disenfranchisement is not limited to rural communities. But while we certainly haven’t solved every issue facing urban residents, there is an urgency and energy toward improving economic opportunity in cities that is lacking in the discussion about rural communities.

We can change that.

One place to start might be investing in improving access to broadband.

EVENT: Startup Pitch Night & Roundtable coming Nov 19 in Willmar MN

If you live near Willmar and have entrepreneurial or innovator tendencies, this might be an event for you. If you don’t live in the area, yet you have entrepreneurial or innovator tendencies or work with people who do, this might give you some good ideas. It comes from WorkUP, a coworking space in WIllmar…

All Startup Alumni, supporters and entrepreneurial fans are invited! This is your chance to hear and learn from a few of our Startup Bootcamp Alumni – two of them graduated recently and one of them went through a couple of years ago and is coming back to share an update. They’ll practice pitching their companies using concepts discovered in the workshop, and we’ll offer support, input and any assistance we can provide to help them be successful. Happy hour beverages and snacks will be provided. Don’t miss it!
Learn more

EVENT: NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar Nov 20

An invitation from BroadbandUSA…

You are invited to join NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar

Topic: Building Digital Workforce Skills at the Local Level

Date:   Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Time:  2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET

Overview: A digitally skilled workforce is essential for the economic development of our nation’s communities. Companies of all sizes need employees that understand technology, whether it’s on the business or operational side of the organization. Join BroadbandUSA to hear how local leaders are building partnerships between governments, businesses, nonprofits and education to help residents attain the skills needed to thrive in a digital economy.

Speakers:

  • David Keyes, Digital Equity Program Manager, City of Seattle Information Technology
  • Stacey Wedlake, Research Coordinator and Analyst, Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) at University of Washington Information School
  • Shonna Dorsey, Senior Business Systems Consultant, Mutual of Omaha
  • Kagan Coughlin, Co-Founder, Trustee Base Camp Coding Academy

Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link.   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.

Computer and Tech Skills Top Rural Americans’ List of Training Needed to Find a Better Job

From the Internet Innovation Alliance

This statistic shows rural Americans’ views on which skills or trainings are needed to keep or find a better job in their community in 2018. During the survey, 25 percent of respondents said that they believe they need computer and technical skills trainings to keep or find a better job in their community.