Calling all entrepreneurs: Round 2 of Ignite Cup set for April 18

On April 18, Red Wing Ignite will host the second annual Ignite Cup, a competition for start-up businesses in southern Minnesota. The winner will have the chance to compete as a semifinalist in the statewide MN Cup business competition.

"The Ignite Cup brings a voice to some of the greatest minds in the area," said Neela Mollgaard, executive director at Red Wing Ignite. "We're excited about the collaborative nature of this event and partnership with the MN Cup."

To compete in the Ignite Cup, start-ups must complete an online application by March 31. On April 7, five applicants will be selected to present their businesses to a panel on April 18. The panel, featuring qualified economic development professionals, will then select a winner to move onto the MN Cup, where competitors have a chance to gain business plan feedback, mentorship opportunities, media exposure, networking opportunities, and $400,000 in available seed funding.

All Ignite Cup competitors will receive feedback and regional networking opportunities. The Ignite Cup is open to any southern Minnesota resident interested in business innovation.

To apply, go to www.ignite-cup.eventbrite.com. If you have further questions, contact Shannan Harris with Red Wing Ignite at 651-327-2154.

Viewpoint: Red Wing Ignite living up to its name

I would like to share with the Red Wing community about a resource available in our fine city that is unique and extremely valuable. Have you heard of Red Wing Ignite? Ever wonder what the organization does and what it's all about?

I like to think of Red Wing Ignite as our tech and innovation hub — a place for entrepreneurs, experienced as well as beginners and those who love technology to learn, share and grow.

Click here to read more

Startups bring vibrance to rural areas

RED WING — An ambitious headline from an August VentureBeat article read: "In 5 years, the Midwest will have more startups than Silicon Valley."

The area is known more for agriculture than for for technological innovation, but that's not to say the drive isn't there.

Nonprofit organization Red Wing Ignite is helping ambitious entrepreneurs find the resources they need in the Goodhue County town.

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Lt. Gov. Smith discusses 'exciting' collaborations with Red Wing Ignite

 Red Wing Ignite Representatives met with Lt. Gov. Smith

Red Wing Ignite Representatives met with Lt. Gov. Smith

By Maureen McMullen on Oct 19, 2016 at 11:37 a.m.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited with Red Wing Ignite representatives and toured the building Thursday as part of her "87 Counties in 86 Days" tour, which also included visits to Dodge and Wabasha counties this week.

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Letter to the Editor: Ignite internship helps advance economy

 Red Wing Ignite Tech Interns: 2016

Red Wing Ignite Tech Interns: 2016

I came to Red Wing for the first time this summer to take advantage of one of the three tech internship opportunities offered through Red Wing Ignite. If the word “internship” makes you think of a position doing cheap, trivial work primarily for the sake of corporate recruiting, my experience was something very different. 

During a period of two to three months, my employers depended on me to build, from the ground up, a new web application that employees would be using on a daily basis. Together my team of three interns provided solutions for four local organizations that might have otherwise left their tech-related needs unaddressed. 

I found the experience quite worthwhile from my own perspective as well. Apart from helping the Red Wing community, it helped me to gain new vocation-specific technical skills as well as the confidence to know that I’m able to finish such a large-scale project well beyond the scope of my undergraduate coursework.

College students studying computer science and information technology have a lot more power than members of that age group have ever had before. In their early 20s, without a ton of professional experience, they already have the ability to turn ideas into big-name websites, help existing companies function efficiently enough to stay competitive and play a central role in building our increasingly technology-dependent society. Even in a small town like Red Wing, there are plenty of areas for young students at nearby colleges to make a big contribution.

But these internships are also important for the future. Not only do they help prepare local college students to join the workforce of tomorrow, but they also help convince them to start their careers in the Minnesota area, not run off to the West Coast to find work as tech-minded college students are apt to do. It’s clear that these internships are a great opportunity for everyone involved and will help advance the local economy in years to come.

Jonah Tuchow

Northfield, Minn.

Jonah Tuchow was a Red Wing Ignite Tech Intern and attends Carleton College.

Rural tech startups see success across the US

While tech startups have become synonymous with urban areas that offer improved access to talent, resources and infrastructure, the reality is that rural areas are also home to startups.

This may come as a surprise to those who have moved away from rural areas specifically to find a job in the tech industry..

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Red Wing Ignite Offers a Chance to Ignite Passion in Teenagers

 Photo credit:  Technovation MN

Photo credit: Technovation MN

Teens can learn to build and market their own app – for FREE

What ignites passion in your teen? Sports? Video games? Perhaps you don’t know, or perhaps they haven’t quite found their passion yet. I felt the same way in high school. Whilst I watched others playing their sports, joining the cheerleading team and more, I wondered what my calling might be. And then one day, I gave a speech in speech class. I was terrified. Mine was a demonstration speech about how to make coffee. I started by pulling the carafe out of a bag, and it fell to the ground and broke. I gave the entire speech with a pretend coffee pot, and was mortified and shaking. When my speech was over, the teacher said to me, “Why don’t you join the speech team? You have a great voice!” I really couldn’t believe it. I was pretty sure I was the worst speaker on the planet and thought it was only a matter of time before the teacher himself started laughing. I have no idea what made me say, ‘yes’, but I did join the speech team. And I competed at the state level competition two times! I am now 46 years old, and I love public speaking. It all started with the spark of something I had no idea I would enjoy.

Red Wing Ignite - Developers

One thing we are very lucky for in the fine city of Red Wing is that Red Wing Ignite, a local not-for-profit technology organization, works hard to promote technology and tries to get grants that can really help people. One of their most recent grants is for a class for high-school students, to teach them how to build and market an app. The program is FREE for them! It’s a 12 week program that meets 1-2 times per week, and includes the learning of how to use an app builder, how to plan for it, market it, and promote it. Where else can students get this knowledge, and for FREE? The class requires a time commitment and it won’t necessarily be easy every step of the way. But it’s worth it. Your teen might even find their calling!

 Photo credit:  Technovation MN

Photo credit: Technovation MN

Click here for more details (on page 17) or call Red Wing Community Education at (651) 385-4565. I am teaching the class, along with Tao Peng. If you prefer to contact me directly for more information about the class, please feel free to do so! Email me at stephjo@redwing.net.

Small Towns, Big Ideas

 South Eastern Minnesota

South Eastern Minnesota

Southeast Minnesota explores how to make hay in the emerging creative economy

The McKnight Foundation commissioned writer Jay Walljasper to do a series of reports looking at the prospects and challenges in Minnesota’s 80 counties outside the metro area. According to Jay, "a cloudy economic picture emerges in recent figures from the Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.

This is the the first report, focusing on Southeast Minnesota.

Southeast Minnesota explores how to make hay in the emerging creative economy

A Cloudy Economic Picture for Rural Minnesota

Red Wing Iron Works

The McKnight Foundation commissioned writer Jay Walljasper to do a series of reports looking at the prospects and challenges in Minnesota’s 80 counties outside the metro area. According to Jay, "a cloudy economic picture emerges in recent figures from the Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development. There are more than two job seekers for every position open — with 45 percent of those jobs part-time. The median wage for all jobs is $11 an hour, while DEED’s cost-of-living research shows $14.50 is necessary to support a family in Southeast. Three Southeast counties — Winona, Mower and Fillmore — have poverty rates above the state average. Meanwhile, broadband connections are spotty in some places and firms face steep hurdles in attracting young talent. 

The Solution?

The key to success in the changing economy of the 21st century “is for a community to be specialized — have something they are known for,” explains Tom Fisher, dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Design and a national authority in the new field of community resilience. “And not just low wages or soybeans, which leaves you vulnerable if a decision in some far-off city closes a factory or changes the price of a crop. Small towns need help gaining the confidence to go in a new direction and stand out — that’s what you need to thrive.”

Red Wing Community & Red Wing Ignite

"...Red Wing’s key assets: the river, the bluffs, downtown’s central role in the community, proximity to the Twin Cities, the elegant city-owned Sheldon Theater, a strong historic preservation ethic, a growing arts and handicrafts community, unique locally-owned businesses, growing ethnic diversity as seen by three Mexican groceries, low rent in handsome old buildings and, most of all, people embracing a big vision for the community.

What Red Wing Ignite is Doing about it

The Red Wing Ignite Innovation Center is a locally grown initiative partnering with US Ignite, a project of the National Science Foundation and the White House for making sure the next generation of Internet applications creates wider public benefits. In addition to state-of-the-art Gigabit Internet service reaching all households in town by the end of the year, Red Wing Ignite has launched a business accelerator connecting entrepreneurs with investors, mentors, and regional and national partners. They also host regular educational and networking events as well providing offices and meeting venues at a new co-working space in the former Red Wing Shoe headquarters downtown.

Additionally, Red Wing enjoys high levels of civic involvement, as seen in Live Healthy Red Wing, a coalition of 10 organizations promoting better health through projects like walking and biking guides, safe routes to school plans, community gardens, school nutrition programs and improvements to crosswalks and park trails. “People are drawn to big cities that are healthy,” says coordinator Michelle Leise, “and the same goes for smaller towns where you can walk, bike, garden and connect with people.”

John Becker muses how Red Wing could look in a few years: “The schools are full, there’s a strong sense of community and purpose, there are plenty of public gathering places, the city is more walkable and bikeable with lots of business opportunities, lots of independently-owned businesses, not a lot of franchises and large parking lots, everyone knows their neighbors.”

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