APEX News - April/May  2019

 New Investor-Members

 Jeff Foster Trucking, Inc
Jeff Foster Trucking, Inc. is a trucking company with an overriding commitment to quality, dependability, safety, and customer satisfaction. The company stands out by leading with honesty and outperforms the competition through creativity, innovation, and an aggressive pursuit of technological advances that improve operational efficiency and increase profitability. Jeff Foster Trucking is proud to lead the Twin Ports and surrounding areas with development through growth and acquisitions.
Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP) is a family-owned construction management company that is consistently ranked among the top general contractors in the nation while maintaining one of the safest records in the industry. AP focuses on projects that enhance where we live and work. AP offers preconstruction and construction services to commercial, education, healthcare, hospitality, industrial, multifamily, municipal, recreation, and senior living market segments. They recently opened a Duluth office on Superior Street and we welcome them to our community!

Rachel Contracting
Rachel Contracting is a heavy civil construction company operating across the Midwest. The Rachel Construction team provides a wide array of specialty services in earthwork, demolition, utilities, and specialized contracting for public and private markets. Founded in 2006 by Don Rachel, Rachel Construction has grown into a $100 million a year multi-discipline construction company and has successfully completed over 750 projects in the region. We congratulate Rachel Contracting for recently celebrating their one year anniversary in their Hermantown location.

May Investor-Member Meeting Highlights Mass Timber

At the bi-monthly APEX meeting on May 2, 2019, investor-members learned more about our regional capacity for mass timber manufacturing and also heard from a national thought leader in the industry.

Tamara Lowney, President of the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), shared the results of a recently completed study, the Economic Feasibility of Mass Timber Manufacturing in Minnesota, which highlighted a strong commercial market, accessibility to supply chain, and opportunities for economic impact.

The study suggests that Minnesota has great potential to introduce mass timber manufacturing in the Arrowhead region.

Building a mid-sized manufacturing facility in northern Minnesota would bring:
  • 50 new (direct) jobs
  • $11.7M in industry sales
  • $6.2M in labor income
  • 45 new (indirect) jobs
  • Total Output: $20.3M
“Minnesota has incredible potential to grow our secondary wood products sector to include mass timber manufacturing,” said Lowney. “This important study answered the key question, 'Is there access to lumber that meets the specifications required by mass timber?' The answer was a solid 'Yes!' We are fortunate to have that supply in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and from our Canadian neighbors to the north.”
The study was funded by several regional partners, including the Blandin Foundation, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRR), Minnesota Power, an ALLETE Company, Great River Energy, IEDC, and APEX.
Download the Mass Timber Fact Sheet
Archie Landreman, Regional Director of WoodWorks, also attended this APEX meeting where he shared insights regarding the application of mass timber in commercial construction. WoodWorks provides free project assistance as well as education and resources related to the design of non-residential and multi-family wood buildings. Technical experts offer support from design through construction on a wide range of building types.
Landreman has been active in the wood and structural building component industry since 1970. He shared various examples of the 400 construction projects throughout the country using lumber, structural wood panels, prefabricated wall panels, wood trusses, engineered wood beams, and I-joists.

He complimented APEX on our mass timber efforts, stating there are many Midwest projects underway that would certainly leverage a mass timber manufacturing location, if such existed.

Brian Hanson, APEX President and CEO, concluded the discussion with a new priority for APEX: using the new information and study results to market mass timber as a key industry in the APEX region.

For more information about WoodWorks or APEX’s mass timber efforts, contact Matt.
What does your organization/company do?
CW Technology manages the utilization of technology solutions and processes for organizations in Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.
How long have you been an investor-member of APEX?
Since 2011
What do you value about APEX?
The knowledge and relationships that APEX offers help investor-members view things from different perspectives. This allows us to create change within the region and our individual organizations.

What do you want fellow investor-members to know?
The investor-member model of APEX allows regional business leaders to drive economic development in the region. When we work together to partner and support the goals set forth by the team, the entire region benefits. It’s not just about industrial work, technology, hospitality or tourism. It’s all the industries building on one another to strengthen the entire regional economy. CW Technology is proud to be a part of APEX.
What does your organization/company do?
The Duluth Airport Authority administers Duluth’s airports on behalf of the entire region. We manage the infrastructure, promote the regional aviation industry, and assist in aviation-related economic development efforts. Our top priority has always been to make sure that travel is safe and easy for our customers.
How long have you been an investor-member of APEX?
We’ve been a part of APEX since its inception in 2004. We’re proud to be part of the originating group of investor-members.
What do you value about APEX?
APEX has really helped bring together and focus the economic development energy in the region. There are so many who are passionate about growing our industries and APEX transforms all the great ideas into impactful strategies. We’ve partnered with APEX on many projects over the past 15+ years and the results speak for themselves.
The aviation industry is strong here because of the work of APEX and APEX investor-members. Between commercial aviation, aircraft manufacturing and detailing, aerospace engineering and more, the aviation industry has become a key component of our regional economy. APEX played a critical role in growing our industry and many more.
What do you want fellow investor-members to know?
APEX has provided its stakeholders with tremendous value since day one. It is very important that businesses, local government, and the general public continue to support APEX’s collective efforts to grow existing businesses, strengthen key industries, and attract new opportunities to the region.


2019 Progress Minnesota Awards

Every year, APEX is proud to join our investor-members who have been recognized by Finance & Commerce as Progress Minnesota award winners. Progress Minnesota is an acknowledgment of the individuals, companies, and associations that are driving business, industrial growth, and development in the Twin Cities and the State of Minnesota. Two investor-members were recognized in the manufacturing category this year.
PolyMet, Inc
After receiving the final federal permit required to open the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals mine near Hoyt Lakes, MN, PolyMet’s efforts were recognized throughout the nation. During the 10+ year permitting process, PolyMet focused on keeping the public informed and making sure residents understand the benefits of this project and the 360 high-quality jobs it stands to create in northern Minnesota.

Gardner Builders
Gardner Builders’ CEO, Bob Gardner, believes that when staff members feel valued, they deliver greater success – a philosophy that is driving incredible growth. Gardner Builders' revenues tripled from $50 million in 2015 to $150 million in 2018 and with an expected $250 million (not to mention 20+ new jobs) to arrive this year. Impressive work! Congratulations on this recognition.

Upcoming Staff Events

Select USA

Monday, June 10 - Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Washington DC

Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM)

Wednesday, June 12 - Friday, June 14, 2019
Duluth Entertainment Center (DECC) 
Duluth, MN

Investor-Members in the News

Please click the button below to read about recent announcements and acknowledgments amongst APEX investor-members.
Investor-Members In The News

Minnesota Innovation Collaborative

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, regional leaders gathered at a Minnesota Innovation Collaborative (MIC) event to highlight innovative entrepreneurship in the Duluth Area. APEX was pleased to help our partners identify entrepreneurs and plan the event. Governor Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove participated in a “Shark Tank” style event featuring four Duluth-based entrepreneurs:
  • Markus Mueller, Editorial Director, Runway Manhattan
  • Nathan Lipinski, CEO, McCubed
  • Tom Wolfe, CEO, Thinking Engines
  • Brian Garhofer, CEO, The Actives Factory
Each entrepreneur had an opportunity to pitch an innovative idea for a new business or business expansion to the governor, ultimately competing to catch the attention of both the governor and the MIC. To keep Minnesota businesses on the edge of innovation, the MIC will be supporting a series of new initiatives designed to accelerate the growth of startups and innovative companies with early grant funding, educational opportunities, and collaboration.

Regional Workforce Strategy

In April, the Talent Forecast team hosted a roll-out session to share results and launch several action plans that have been carefully designed to help resolve key workforce challenges in our region.
  1. Increasing industry demand for workers
  2. Attracting and retaining mobile, skilled talent
  3. Leveraging underutilized talent pools
APEX commissioned this Talent Forecast study that is dedicated to helping regional leaders better understand our region’s current and future workforce environment so we may better develop and implement solutions that address an array of critical workforce challenges. The study is equally dedicated to understanding how we may better leverage the strengths of operating in our region, as well. 
Final drafts of the report and action plans are currently receiving their finishing touches and will soon be put to work. APEX investor-members will be among the first to receive both.
For more information in the meantime, visit or email Ian Vincent.

APEX Welcomes Matt Shermoen as New Business Developer

APEX is pleased to welcome Matthew Shermoen to the APEX team as a Business Developer. Shermoen is passionate about helping our region and its communities reach their fullest potential. Matt will draw from his 15 years of experience in business and economic development to grow the APEX region.
“We are delighted to have Matt join the APEX team,” said Brian Hanson, APEX President and CEO. “Matt’s deep familiarity with northern Minnesota and Wisconsin and his impressive sales, marketing and business development experience are exactly what APEX needs to grow our existing base and attract new businesses to the region.”
As Business Developer, Shermoen will be responsible for attracting, expanding, and retaining key strategic employers within the region. Shermoen will leverage his sales expertise to build relationships with management personnel, demonstrating how expanding in or relocating to the APEX region leads to achieving business growth goals and objectives.
Before joining APEX, Shermoen spent several years as a Business Development Manager for Golden Shovel Agency, a full-service economic development marketing and communications firm specializing in business and workforce attraction for economic and community development across the United States and Canada. Shermoen is also co-owner of Border Country Outdoor Adventures, a fishing guide service provider on Rainy Lake. In addition, Shermoen has worked in several industries that are important to northern Minnesota’s economy including technology, industrial and retail sales, and outdoor recreation.
Copyright © 2019 APEX, All rights reserved.

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