IDEA is a competition that turns great ideas into great businesses. Through an annual process, IDEA provides training, business coaching, and capital for northwest Minnesota entrepreneurs who want to turn an idea into a fast-growth business.

Beginning in 2007, a group of partners including Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Headwaters Regional Development Corporation, Northland Community and Technical College, and Bemidji State University began to research various strategies for growing the economy. At that time, the Kauffman Foundation had recently published a report on the impact of “American Idol-like” entrepreneur competitions.

The collaborators believed that this type of competition would be a good growth strategy for Northwest Minnesota. They pooled their resources, applied for and received a major grant to kick off the project.

Michelle Landsverk facilitated the project design process and served as project coordinator for IDEA from 2008-2016, helping the program evolve into a sustainable regional collaboration.

Your steady leadership, strong facilitation skills and knowledge of the region have really helped these projects (IDEA Competition and IMPACT 20/20) to get a strong foothold in the region. You have brought so much more than we hired you for. Your ability to organize and shepherd the diverse partners and parties in these projects has been appreciated.
Nancy Vyskocil

President, Northwest Minnesota Foundation