Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The Initiative Foundation selected Randy Olson as its new vice president for economic opportunity. Olson will lead the foundation's efforts to stimulate economic development through planning, partnerships and business lending programs.
Olson is the former state director of Minnesota's Small Business Development Centers. He managed the SBDC's nine regional centers, which provide business counseling, training, loan packaging and other resources for entrepreneurs.
"Small businesses will continue to provide the economic foundation for our communities," Olson said. "I look forward to strengthening our existing services and introducing new services in support of the small business community."
Olson's most recent position was general manager of University Enterprise Laboratories, a University of Minnesota initiative to help new bioscience firms. He also served as executive director of Minnesota Project Innovation, which assists high-tech entrepreneurs in obtaining federal grants for business start-ups and expansions.
"We see high-tech, manufacturing, bioscience and green businesses as key opportunity areas for our region," said Initiative Foundation President Kathy Gaalswyk. "Randy has spent a significant part of his career working in these areas."
Olson has an MBA from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management and an MS degree in marketing from the University of North Dakota.
"There will be opportunities in this economy for people interested in starting or expanding a small business," Olson added. "My goal is to help our employers retain current jobs and also create new ones."
Serving central Minnesota's 14 counties, the Initiative Foundation offers grants, business loans and leadership programs that enable citizens to build stronger communities and economies. Since 1986, the foundation has invested $34.2 million to create or secure more than 9,600 jobs in central Minnesota.