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MN-DEED Supports Startups: Funding, Programs, and Resources

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Neela Mollgaard
Launch Minneosta - MN DEED, Executive Director

Neela Mollgaard, Executive Director of Launch Minnesota, is working to create an environment to support entrepreneurs and nurture tech startups with a goal of fostering an innovation ecosystem across the state that draws global attention, talent, and capital.

Launch Minnesota, started in 2019, is spearheaded by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in partnership with a statewide advisory board and private sector stakeholders.

Neela’s career has involved bringing people together to create change. She has been a leader and facilitator of innovation across organizations and communities. Most recently, she served as a founder of the nonprofit Red Wing Ignite which supports entrepreneurs, businesses, and students to succeed in the 21st-century economy. By forging partnerships with government, academic, corporate, and community partners, Red Wing Ignite developed an innovative ecosystem model that garnered national attention.

She has served in a variety of leadership roles with local organizations and nonprofits. She is a former member of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, and founder and chair of Women Cents, a nonprofit that supports children and families. Recently, Neela was named in Twin Cities Business Magazine’s “TCB 100: The People to Know in 2020.”

Jeff Nelson
Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development, Economic Development Manager

Jeff manages the Business Tax Benefits Unit of the Office of Business Finance at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). His portfolio of economic development programs includes the Angel Tax Credit Program, Launch Minnesota, the Greater Minnesota Job Expansion Program, the Data Center Sales Tax Incentive Program, the Border Cities Enterprise Zone Program, the Minnesota Film & TV Board, and the Minnesota 21st Century Fund. Prior to joining DEED in 2006, Jeff was a Tax Product Development & Marketing Manager at Thompson Reuters. He received his BA in International Relations and Accounting at the University of Minnesota, earned his JD from The George Washington University, and passed the CPA exam.

Drew Lindorfer
MN DEED, Senior Loan Officer

Drew Lindorfer is a senior loan officer in DEED's Office of Business Finance. She has 15 years' experience in small business finance and economic development. She currently manages DEED's Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program.

Laurence Reszetar
DEED/MTO, Director, International Business Strategy

As the Director of International Business Strategy in the Minnesota Trade Office, a division of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, creates and executes the strategy to bring Minnesota to the world and the world to Minnesota.

Nila Gouldin
MN DEED, Launch Minnesota Grant Manager

Born and raised in Minnesota, my career has been primarily in the non-profit and public sector. Over a decade of that time has been with Minnesota State Agencies. Even though it can be a little hectic, I enjoy working with the energy and promise of new programs and initiative whose purpose is to improve the lives of our communities.

Bruce Strong
Minnesota SBDC, State Director

Bruce Strong is State Director for the Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network. He has extensive experience in community and economic development and in the mortgage lending and banking industries. He is an Air Force veteran and graduated summa cum laude from National College with a degree in Business Administration and Marketing.

Chinwe Ngwu
DEED, Senior Loan Officer

Chinwe Ngwu is a Senior Loan Officer who has worked in DEED's Economic Development department as a finance professional since 2016. Chinwe had worked in the finance industry for over 13 years. She works with Veterans who are small business owners or those starting a new business to help them finance their business with programs such as the Minnesota Reservist and Veterans Business Loan Program.

John Shoffner
State of Minnesota DEED, Regional Business Development Manager & Foreign-Trade Zone Director

John has a diverse business background with sophisticated corporate, governmental and banking organizations, applying analytical, research, communication and leadership skills. Gained extensive experience in financial and credit analysis, strategic planning, accounting, forecasting, budgeting, business development and client services. Built productive relationships with senior management, plant managers, engineers and external consultants and clients.

He completed his undergraduate studies at North Carolina State University and his graduate degree at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

John is focused on attracting and retaining new jobs and investment to Minnesota in his role at DEED and helping companies become more globally competitive through the foreign-trade zone program.

Charles Schaffer
Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development, Small Business Assistance Office, Director

Charles Schaffer focuses on business assistance efforts at the intersection of economics and the law in areas like business structure, market structure, regulation and taxation. He is the principal author of DEED’s “A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota” now in its 38th edition.


MN-DEED Supports Startups: Funding, Programs, and Resources

Following this session join the speaker(s) in the Community Lounge for a 15 minute Q&A.