Jeff is a local entrepreneur and graduate of ILT Academy, a program partnered with Itasca Economic Development Corporation to teach and train local innovators and entrepreneurs the skillsets needed to develop successful ventures. After solidifying his idea throughout ILT Academy, Jeff recently won second place in The RINK pitch competition for his invention The Water Mender, an innovative water filtration system. Blandin Foundation supported this training with a $50,000 grant.
When I think about 2021 and all of its hard lessons, it doesn’t take long to remember how blessed we are to live in this resource rich area. It is such a privilege to leave work, jump in the car, find solitude and recharge one’s soul on any of the many lakes, trails or public forests in the area. It is easy to forget or take these things for granted, but no one else has this so close to home, and in such abundance, that the odds of you being alone are greater than finding yourself in a crowd.
Even with the COVID 19 challenges we faced, we continue to see ordinary people step up and do extraordinary things. Whether it is organizing a local foot race, a blood drive, volunteering, or adapting their business to cater to our new way of life, our little community shows its character. I’m so proud of all the friends, colleagues, and neighbors who have emerged as leaders, even when it is easier not to. As we turn the page on 2021, I hope we can learn to understand each other a little more, bury a few hatchets. Try to take a step back from politics, and a step towards relationships. We can do anything here! We make paper, supply half the state with power, make tractors, and hundreds of other things, all inside of a 10-mile square. Just like the abundance of natural resources, we have solid human resources and will no doubt come out of this thing swinging!