Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

DEED's New Emerging Entrepreneur Board Members


August 17, 2020

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan recently appointed eight new members to serve on the Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Board for two- or three-year terms.

This board plays a significant role in state efforts to reduce disparities and close gaps related to small business ownership by people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and by women, veterans and people with disabilities. It provides research, information, and policy recommendations which help shape various Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) programs.

Going forward, this board will continue to expand its work on the economic diversification of Minnesota through its focus on enabling diverse business enterprises and job creation, particularly in low-income areas across the state.

By law, this board is chaired by the Commissioner of DEED and includes the chair of the Metropolitan Council, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and 12 members of the public appointed by Governor Walz. Requirements ensure representation on the board from the various groups named in the enabling legislation.

New board members

We are announcing eight new members, who were recently appointed to two- or three- year terms:

Lance Fang, of Woodbury, has an extensive background in consulting, technology, and business and has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies.

Grover Jones, of St. Paul, is a business owner and former economic director of Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON). He has been a member of the board since it began as the Urban Initiative Board, and he was recently reappointed to another term.

Carol Logan, of Cottage Grove, brings expertise on the State of Minnesota and grant practices.

Mary (Maija) Niska is the owner of Silver Lake Floral in Virginia, Minn., and serves on the Virginia City Council.

Christopher Omare, of Brooklyn Park, operates a consulting group that works to empower emerging immigrant and non-immigrant small-scale business owners. Omare is knowledgeable in developing business proposals, project management, market trend research, and other business operations.

Tohow Siyad is a business owner/entrepreneur from St. Cloud.

Lakisha Witter, of Minneapolis, is experienced in education and program development.

Adeline Wright is a hair salon owner in Duluth and is active in volunteer work.

Current board members

They will join the four current members whose terms expire next January:

Fredrick Blocton, of Eden Prairie, is president of UpNet Client Solutions Group.

Edna McKenzie, of Brooklyn Park, works in general contracting construction and environmental consulting.

Nawal Noor, of Richfield, is a developer and general contractor and a Bush Fellowship recipient (2019).

Tim O’Neil, of St. Paul, works in business development in the veteran community.

Thank you for volunteering. We look forward to working with you!

– Hamse Warfa, Deputy Commissioner Workforce Development


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