People built the Forge North coalition to go further together. And those people have a bold ambition here in the Startup Capital of the North.

By 2030, the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region will be the best place for people from every background to start & scale ventures that build wealth by solving global challenges.

To realize this ambition we need a big tent. Today, we’re excited to announce the creation of a team committed to realizing inclusive growth and expanding that tent.

The Forge North Leadership Council represents diverse networks across a big ecosystem – including entrepreneurs, investors, corporate & government innovators, and community builders. This team, powered by the GREATER MSP Partnership, will look to the community to set goals & take action at scale.

“We must dream bigger to achieve the next iteration of ourselves,” said Brett Carter, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer & Innovation Officer at Xcel Energy. “Working in partnership gives us a chance to be competitive in the new American economy. The strong base of established large companies and the vast number of entrepreneurs is a great basis for a new platform.”

Forge North Leadership Council members

  • Jessica Berg, Director of Minnesota Cup, Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Jason Breen, Senior Director, Enterprise Accelerators, Target
  • Brett Brohl, Managing Director, Techstars Farm-to-Fork Accelerator; Managing Director, The Syndicate Fund
  • Brett Carter, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer & Innovation Officer, Xcel Energy
  • Mary Grove, Partner, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund
  • Brian Gustafson, Managing Director, Investments, Tonkawa, the Carlson Family Office
  • Amy Langer, Co-Founder, Salo
  • Anisha Murphy, Director of Community Engagement, Northside Economic Opportunity Network; Owner, Just Law LLC
  • Sam Ndely, Business Consultant, Metropolitan Economic Development Association; co-founder, Graveti
  • Damola Ogundipe, Co-Founder, Civic Eagle

This team isn’t alone. They stand with dozens of partners that worked to build the Forge North coalition, including many who worked to design and recruit this council. Leaders from organizations like Minnestar, Gener8tor, BETA and Twin Cities Startup Week, and others are already directing teams and projects of the Forge North coalition. More opportunities to join in will be announced this winter.

“We’ve seen how the wisdom of crowds has helped improve society and decision making,” said Damola Ogundipe. “By working in partnership, we’re harnessing that wisdom to create a region that looks, feels, and acts inclusively while creating opportunities.”

To help the Council and this growing coalition take its next steps, you can weigh in on big goals for the local ecosystem in 2020 and beyond. You can vote on specific options or add your own by clicking here. The Council’s survey will remain open until December 8.

Forge North is a coalition-based effort to build the problem-solving capital of the new economy. The initiative is designed to align partners who work across industries and communities to start ventures, solve problems, and scale impact. It’s now a strategic initiative of the GREATER MSP Partnership, the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region’s 501c3 public-private economic development partnership.

The Forge North Leadership Council will steer this effort to proudly celebrate, inclusively connect, and dream bigger across a vibrant ecosystem. It will be comprised of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate innovators, leaders of entrepreneurial support organizations, educators and other key stakeholders working in alignment with GREATER MSP Partnership Board and Staff.

Specifically, the Council will work to:

  • Engage a diverse ecosystem in setting clear and ambitious goals (e.g. startup rates) and consistently tracking progress through shared indicators
  • Use goals to rally partners around transformational ideas that accelerate risk taking and ignite inclusive growth
  • Establish annual objectives for the initiative itself, in service of broader ecosystem goals
  • Prioritize support for peer groups & projects, global outreach & PR, and local events
  • Support and amplify local and statewide efforts (e.g. Full Stack Saint Paul, Launch Minnesota)

Founding members in the Forge North coalition worked with the GREATER MSP Partnership to design this Leadership Council and took input from a Design Team of local entrepreneurs, investors, and community builders. A minimum of six and maximum of eight Council Members will be selected through this open application process.

The Leadership Council will operate with by-laws approved by its members. Council members will be expected to identify with the Operating Principles established by Forge North’s founders, as well as the values of the GREATER MSP Partnership. Specific logistics, including frequency of meetings, will be determined by Council Members based on the goals & objectives they set. Full-time staff will manage the Council, with additional support, as necessary. 

This background document provides additional details. Thank you to the dozens of founding members who built Forge North, volunteer council Design Team members, and thousands of people across the ecosystem for working every day to start and scale ventures and solve important problems.

You are encouraged to apply or to nominate someone else.


Have questions? Feel free to contact Matt Lewis, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at GREATER MSP at, or reach out to interim Forge North co-chairs Jessica Berg, Director of MN Cup, and Maria Ploessl, Executive Director of Minnestar.