Frequently Asked Questions

Who is APEX?
APEX is a member-driven, private-sector led, 501(c)(6) non-profit dedicated to attracting, expanding and retaining businesses in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. The APEX mission is to leverage private sector resources to drive investment throughout the region.

Where is the APEX Region?
APEX serves the seven-county Arrowhead of northeast Minnesota (Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis), as well as Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland Counties in Wisconsin.

Which industries does APEX target in its business development work?
APEX focuses its business attraction, expansion and retention initiatives on those industries which have long been the backbone of the region’s economy such as mining and forest products, along with new and innovative sectors like technology and aviation. See the Involta case study for an example of how APEX engages strategically in specific industries.

The APEX staff takes pride in being agile and responsive. As market opportunities and conditions change, we make adjustments to our focus areas. You can learn more in the Key Industries section of the website. Although APEX typically does not target hospitality, tourism or retail industries, we do occasionally engage in certain strategic “destination” projects which promise to drive major investments in the region.

How does APEX carry out its mission?
The APEX Business Development model follows a disciplined approach of Opportunity Research, Prospect Selection, Project Formation, and Expansion Support. Economic and Business Development is a team sport, and we work with an extensive network of investor-members and partners to achieve our goals.

Why should I work with APEX to relocate my business to, or invest in, northeast Minnesota or northwest Wisconsin?
There are a variety of parameters that our team has established to help assess whether our region provides the right foundation for your business. Here are some to consider:

  • Does the success of your business depend on a loyal, well educated workforce with competitive wage rates and high productivity?
  • Do you require access to a multi-modal transportation network with an international airport, international seaport, interstate highway service and four major railway systems?
  • Does your business depend on abundant, moderately priced natural resources like water, timber and minerals?
  • Do you wish to benefit from 13 post-secondary educational institutions, competitively-priced electric utility rates, and an unparalleled quality of life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the region of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin is the right place for your business. APEX is prepared to connect you with the right site, the right people and the right resources to ensure for the long-term success and profitability of your business.

Can APEX help me understand potential incentives for my project?
Yes. APEX works with partners at the state, regional and local levels of the public sector, along with banks, foundations and other partners to match appropriate incentives with project needs. Incentives are typically matched to committed businesses based on project characteristics, which may include size of investment; impact of jobs and wages; infrastructure; and other factors. See the AAR case study to learn how APEX assesses opportunities for the clients we work with.

Can APEX connect me to equity investors?
Yes. APEX has connections with Angel Investors and equity groups seeking solid investment opportunities for businesses located in the APEX Region. Because every project is different, we recommend you contact APEX’s President and CEO, Brian Hanson, to discuss your specific project needs and the opportunity available for investors. For an example of how APEX leverages local investment opportunities, read the Tryon Media case study.

How else does APEX support the success of my local business?
APEX works diligently behind the scenes every day to support the success of your business. Together with our investor-members and economic development partners, we work to foster an innovative, highly-competitive business environment in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin where your company can thrive. One great example of our partnerships is NORTHFORCE, a regional initiative aimed at attracting and retaining a skilled workforce in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.  We don’t chase headlines or fight to win elections, so you may not always know what we’re up to, but we’re out there and we’re working for you. The finest compliment we can receive is when an APEX customer becomes an APEX investor-member. See the maurices case study to learn how APEX engaged in business and economic development on a local level with an APEX investor member.

Tell me more about NORTHFORCE.
NORTHFORCE is a regional initiative aimed at connecting great employers with great talent. We manage a database of employers, individuals, jobs, and resumes to get people happily employed. Employers post their open positions on Individuals post their profile and resume. NORTHFORCE staff match talented individuals with open positions. Employers find candidates that want to live and work here in the APEX Region. Individuals find once-in-a-lifetime careers in the place they WANT to call home. Register yourself or your business, and learn more here.

How is APEX funded?
APEX is a membership-driven non-profit which derives its primary operational and financial support from over 70 of the region’s leading companies, foundations and academic partners. Our members pay annual dues to support the work we do. They are also a great source of support and information, keeping APEX in-the-know on business needs, wants and priorities. APEX strategies and tactics are directly influenced by this valuable input. In return, member-investors are kept up-to-date on the initiatives and new opportunities we’re engaged with. Learn more by visiting our Membership section of the website.

Does my business qualify for an APEX investment?
Private-sector employers in the APEX service territory are eligible for an APEX membership. If you would like to see northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin thrive, we urge you to join your local chamber of commerce, support your county-level economic development professionals, and contact us to discuss the many opportunities an APEX investment will support the success of your business.

What was the APEX Strategic Resources Group?
Throughout most of our history, APEX supported specific projects outside the scope of our non-profit economic development work by providing both fee-based services and referral services. Today, APEX primarily provides business customers with referral services to match their needs with existing regional resources that can help by providing: new market development, distribution and channel strategies, pricing strategies, strategic planning, corporate governance, finance, operations management, succession planning, acquisition of capital and credit, merger and acquisition support, and more.

Previously, the APEX Strategic Resources Group (SRG) was a staffed consulting arm of APEX. As a wholly-owned, for-profit subsidiary of APEX, SRG offered fee-based consulting services for primarily business clients. These services are not actively offered today.

Since every situation is different, you can rely on APEX staff to explore your needs and help identify the best resources for your unique situation. Contact us today – we’ll evaluate whether we can help.

Does APEX provide contract services?
Yes. APEX works very closely with public sector and nonprofit partners to help them achieve their goals by tapping specific skills and expertise found on the APEX team. We find this is an efficient and effective way to leverage APEX resources and help our partners in the APEX Region be successful. See the Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation case study to learn more.

How is APEX involved in the community?
APEX staff are encouraged to contribute to the APEX Region and grow their skills and experiences through participation in local leadership initiatives, business and workforce focused boards, and other social and civic organizations that support the region’s people and our overall quality of place.