APEX Annual Meeting Highlights Economic Optimism for Region

Friday, April 07, 2017

Duluth, MN: On January 26, 2017, the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) hosted their annual Board of Directors and investor-member meeting and reception at the Kitchi Gammi Club. Nearly 100 regional, public and private sector leaders were in attendance for the event and to hear guest speaker John R. Elmore, Vice Chair of Community Banking and Branch Delivery at U.S. Bank. Elmore shared his insight into recent economic shifts.

Elmore expressed optimism for economic development in the region of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Equity markets and the treasury yield curve are trending upwards. Overall wages have been on the rise since 2014, but significantly increased during the second half of 2016. As these trends continue, the region’s optimism can be turned into action.

“After nearly 10 years of sub-par economic growth, we’ve seen significant movement in the marketplace,” said Elmore. “Consumer confidence is nearly at an all-time high, so we are seeing incredible opportunities for business growth in Minnesota.”

Elmore spoke specifically to Minnesota’s economy, stating the workforce is stronger and more educated than ever before and the State’s employers have built teams positioned to achieve more. Every investment made in Minnesota’s economy creates additional opportunities for growth and success. This economic environment positions the region for significant growth opportunity.

Elmore noted that growth he anticipates will not come without challenges. Inflation and interest rates are on the rise, and today’s strong U.S. Dollar poses challenges to the export industry. Additionally, uncertain trade policies may weaken global growth.

“The banking industry generally reflects the state of the economy,” continued Elmore. The past decade was difficult, but banks are ready to harness the optimism and help strengthen the economy. “Today, Minnesota is ranked 3rd of the 25 most optimistic states within the U.S. Bank territory. With greater capital reserves and access to capital than we’ve seen in recent years, combined with optimism, we’re confident Minnesota will be positioned for success.”

“It was important for APEX investor-members and our partners to hear John’s message of optimism for our economy. As John said, we must take ownership and share responsibility for our regional economy,” said Brian Hanson, APEX President and CEO. “As a community – philanthropic, public and private stakeholders – we have the capability to drive investment and smart development. Although there has been uncertainty following the election, reading the indicators, understanding key market segments and acting on opportunities will lead to the continued success of our region.”

Elmore concluded by applauding APEX’s vision to recognize possibilities and find innovative ways to foster economic development in the region. He advised continued teamwork in listening to both customers and the business community to lead significant change in our economy.

At the annual meeting, the APEX Board of Directors also elected the 2017 Executive Committee members.

APEX 2017 Executive Committee Officers and At-Large Members:


Chair, Brian Thun, maurices and dressbarn

Vice Chair, Steve Burgess, National Bank of Commerce

Immediate Past Chair: Nancy Norr, Minnesota Power, an ALLETE Company

Secretary, Bill Bennett, LHB, Inc.

Treasurer, John Strange, St. Luke’s

At-Large, Lisa Bodine, Giant Voices

At-Large, Brian Maki, Lakehead Constructors, Inc.

At-Large, Julianne Motis, Foth Infrastructure & Environment

At-Large, Dr. Daniel Nikcevich, Essentia Health

At-Large, Rolf Weberg, UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute


To learn more about APEX, visit  www.APEXgetsbusiness.com.


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About APEX

APEX is the private-sector led business development engine for northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. APEX investor-members represent some of the most influential companies in the region, with a collaborative approach to promoting sustainable economic growth. APEX attraction, expansion and retention efforts focus in areas including aviation, manufacturing, professional services and next generation forest products. APEX has impacted over 4,200 jobs in the region, resulting in an annual regional payroll of over $170 million and contributing to over $23 million in state and local taxes annually. For more information on APEX, please visit www.APEXgetsbusiness.com.





Category: APEX