December 2016    
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F.Y.I. is an electronic publication of The Northspan Group, Inc.

 

www.Northspan.org


It's been a year of website upgrades for the Northspan Group, as we brought two existing sites to the cutting edge of the industry. First, in November, Northspan launched its upgraded NorthlandConnection.com, which serves as an economic development portal for an eight-county area in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. And now, in December, Northspan and a number of local partners are delighted to launch an updated version of NORTHFORCE.org, a regional talent community that looks to attract and retain skilled workers. The two websites are twin pillars of an economic development strategy for the entire region, and stretch across municipal and county boundaries to bring stakeholders from the public and private sectors together in the advancement of the whole region. At the same time, we are also expanding our services as we support the small businesses that play such vital roles in regional economic growth. As we reflect on a groundbreaking year, we pause to wish you a Happy Holidays and thank you for your support of Northspan's work. 



NORTHFORCE Launches Upgraded Website
Kayla Dietzmann - 218-409-7407 - kayla@northforce.org 

Searching for skilled employees and high-quality jobs in the Northland just got smoother, as an upgraded version of NORTHFORCE.org launched in early December. NORTHFORCE is the region's talent community and seeks to attract and retain a skilled workforce for the region. NORTHFORCE is a joint venture between Northspan and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX), and covers all or part of 10 counties in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.
 
"Since the launch of NORTHFORCE in 2014, we have focused considerable time and energy into recruiting talent to our region, and matching candidates with employment opportunities," said APEX President and CEO Brian Hanson. NORTHFORCE, and our partners vested in this strategy, have strengthened northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin's ability to grow and retain talent."
 
Many of the site's major enhancements focus on user experience. NORTHFORCE.org is now mobile-friendly, and job-seekers can log in with their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. The process for employers to log in and post their own jobs has been streamlined, and employers can upgrade their profile to search résumés themselves. The site can also import employers' RSS feeds for job postings. Enhanced analytics help track user location and the number of users who apply for jobs.

NORTHFORCE has led directly to 97 documented hires since its launch in 2014, and an unknown number of users have found jobs on the database without informing NORTHFORCE staff. Additional upgrades to the new site improve the ability of NORTHFORCE staff to track and report on website use, connections made, and hires. The site can make some basic matches between job-seekers and jobs before Project Manager Kayla Dietzmann goes in to send job-seekers positions that are directly tailored to their résumés, which saves her busy work and allows her to spend more time working directly with regional employers and website users. This human touch makes the NORTHFORCE user experience much more personal and user-oriented than traditional web-based job search tools.
 
NORTHFORCE staff can provide assistance beyond basic job matching. They can help create internships, supply wage data, and provide anecdotes on what both employers and job-seekers are looking for or encountering as they go through their searches. Dietzmann maintains relationships with key contacts at employers, can facilitate informational interviews, and creates a venue for passive job-seeking. As of fall 2016, the NORTHFORCE Team has partnered with the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce to commandeer Mentor Connection, a program that pairs local college students with professionals to build connections and cultivate the next generation of local leaders. While the Chamber alone has administered this program in years past, NORTHFORCE will solely take the helm in fall 2017 following this year of transition.  
 
NORTHFORCE has received several honors this year, including an award for Economic Development Initiative of the Year from the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM). Most recently, it secured a Mid-America Econo mic Development Council (MAEDC) 2016 Annual Development Award

Pictured from left: Ron Starner, Executive VP and General Manager, Site Selection and Conway Data Inc., Brian Hanson, President and CEO, APEX, and Matt Sjoberg, Director of Business, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and Chair of the Northspan Group Board of Directors.
for Workforce Development.
 
"Receiving national recognition for NORTHFORCE is an honor," said Randy Lasky, the Northspan Group President and CEO. "Attracting talent and retaining talent is essential to the success of our economy, and NORTHFORCE has become an integral part in developing our region's competitive workforce."
 
Development partners include the Cities of Duluth and Superior, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, the Development Association, the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA), the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), Minnesota Power, and the College of St. Scholastica. The development of the new site was funded by a grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundatio n and in-kind assistance from Duluth based marketing agency, Aimclear. Dietzmann is available at 218-409-7407 or kayla@northforce.org for all inquiries related to NORTHFORCE.

Northspan Now Facilitating Secondary Market SBA Loan Sales
Justin Riemer - 218-529-7565 - jriemer@northspan.org     
 
The Northspan Group, Inc. has considerable experience in the preparation of Small Bu siness Assistance (SBA) applications resulting in successful approval of project financing, and is now offe ring SBA guaranteed loan sale facilitation services. This service will allow SBA lenders the opportunity to sell the guaranteed portion of SBA loans on the secondary market. The premiums on loan sales offer an opportunity for significant and immediate revenues, and we are excited that we can now offer this service to SBA lenders.

There are many advantages to selling the guaranteed portions of SBA loans on the secondary market. A sale offers the seller three sources of income: an up-front premium on the sold portion, interest income on retained portion of the loan, and an ongoing servicing fee on the sold portion that continues throughout the life of the loan. Along with the income benefits, selling a loan will also improve bank liquidity by converting SBA guarantees to cash, which can fund additional loans and offset at-risk capital from unguaranteed holdings. 
 
On behalf of our clients, Northspan will acquire interested investor bids from the list of available SBA pool assemblers and help them find the best investor available to purchase the loan. We will assist with the completion and submittal of all required information and forms to Colson, SBA's Fiscal Transfer Agent, between lenders and prospective investors. We represent our clients' interests throughout the entire loan sale process when under contract with Northspan.

Northspan staff is ready to assist anyone in the region with loan sale needs. Those seeking further information on the sale of SBA loans or who would like some examples of potential premium income should contact Justin Riemer at 218-529-7565 or
jriemer@northspan.org .

 
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Northland Connection Roadshow Demonstrates New Website
Karl Schuettler - 218-529-7564
 
Over the course of the month of November, Northland Connection Director Karl Schuettler embarked on a roadshow to demonstrate the upgraded NorthlandConnection.com website to stakeholders across the region. The roadshow made eight stops in seven counties, and included events in Aitkin, Cloquet, Duluth, Eveleth, Grand Rapids, International Falls, Superior, and Two Harbors.
 
Schuettler gave an overview of the Northland Connection program and showed attendees how to use its property search tool and business resource center, and also highlighted a number of the changes and upgrades to the content of the site. Tamara Lowney of the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX), a frequent user of NorthlandConnection.com, also joined numerous events to explain how she uses the site in her work.
 
When possible, Schuettler also took the opportunity to tour the communities and visit sites and buildings in the Northland Connection database. Outreach to communities across the region will continue as staff keeps the website information up to date and offers the program's research and analysis services. The visits are part of a broader strategy to strengthen connections between the real estate community and local economic development professionals to facilitate development. Northland Connection will build on this momentum and regional input as it sets new goals for the program in 2017.


 
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