APEX History

APEX was founded in 2004 by the region’s private sector thought-leaders who recognized that private sector leadership, secure financial support and a regional approach were keys to a sustainable economy. From our inception, APEX has targeted growth in strategic industries and spearheaded economic and business development efforts.

Today, APEX's business and economic development efforts are focused in areas including aviation, technology, manufacturing, professional services and next generation forest products.

Our core mission is to lead strategic research and workforce development projects in order to support a sustainable and thriving economy.

APEX plays an integral role in NORTHFORCE.org, an employment match-making collaboration to attract, place, retain, enrich and manage top talent within the APEX Region.

Serving as our region’s lead organization to advance economic development projects requires a combination of expertise, client-focus and stamina.  The APEX team has the business acumen, experience and collaborative approach to bring resources together, build the business case and lead projects from start to finish.

Nancy Norr, Norr Community Solutions, LLC





APEX Timeline

APEX Forms
Business executives recognize that private sector leadership with a regional approach is key to a sustainable economy.
Capacity Building
The organization hires a team, determines the strategic industries to target and begins building the credentials and capabilities for the region.
1,000 JOBS
Northland Advantage
APEX responds to the business community’s request to connect employers with candidates looking to relocate to the region. The initiative, Northland Advantage, informally connects professionals with regional employers. The effort eventually transforms, becoming NORTHFORCE.org.
Strategic Resources Group
APEX responds to the need for senior-level strategic assistance to help high-potential businesses. Strategic Resources Group worked with 42 businesses during their time of operation (through 2013).
Data Center - Involta
Involta decides to build, own and operate the region’s first multi-tenant data center. The facility opens in September 2012. APEX and regional partners engaged in a four year attraction strategy to locate the right data center partner.
Itasca Economic Development Corporation Contract
APEX signs an agreement to work collaboratively with Itasca Economic Development Corporation to attract, retain and expand businesses within Itasca County, Minnesota.
2,000 JOBS
AAR Corp. decides to locate in Duluth, occupying the former Northwest Airlines Maintenance Facility. Today, the company employs 350-400 people.
Bayfield Contract
APEX signs an agreement to work collaboratively with Bayfield Economic Development Corporation to attract, retain and expand businesses within Bayfield County, Wisconsin.
3,000 JOBS
Lake County Contract
APEX signs an agreement to work collaboratively with Lake County to attract a data center to Lake County, Minnesota.
Ainsworth Site Sells
APEX and regional partners engage in a multi-year strategy to attract a project to the former Ainsworth site in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The property sells to JM Longyear in 2014.
Northforce Launch
Talent development and recruitment becomes an increasingly challenging issue for regional employers. To respond to the challenge, APEX and regional partners launch NORTHFORCE.org.
4,000 JOBS
Cirrus Design Expansion
APEX and partners support Cirrus Design’s efforts to construct a product completion center. The Certificate of Occupancy is granted in 2016.