RED WING, Minn. — Adam Gettings hit the ground running when he took over as Red Wing Ignite’s executive director in September. Now, Gettings and the Ignite board are working to expand the organization's programs.

Red Wing Ignite was a 2019 regional innovation strategies program i6 challenge award recipients. The grant is $750,000 in federal dollars and $940,602 as a local match (the requirement for the grant was a matching amount). Now, Gettings and Ignite are preparing to execute on this and other grants that Ignite has been awarded.

In the Red Wing Ignite newsletter that introduced Gettings, the executive director wrote: “With the additional resources from this grant and our matching supporters we will be able to expand our efforts to build a model for rural innovation in Minnesota. Connect with me if you want to be part of what we are doing at Red Wing Ignite!”

Since Gettings’ appointment as director, three new jobs were created to help expand the organization: an entrepreneur lead (Susan Langer), marketing lead (Megan Tsui) and workforce lead (Burke Murphy). Gettings said he is excited because the three main focuses of Red Wing Ignite, workforce training, supporting entrepreneurs and building-up regional connectivity, are going to be expanded in 2020.

Workforce training

Learn and Earn began in 2018. In the fall of the 2018-2019 school year, high school students were provided OSHA 10 training and were then able to hold internships in the spring semester with local employers that paid $10 an hour for interns. Along with the pay and experience, Lean and Earn counted as college credit.

Last year’s program focused on manufacturing. Gettings is working to add local agriculture and food businesses as partners with which students can intern. His goal is to add 10 more employers where students can intern with this year.

Supporting entrepreneurship

Ignite has, and continues to hold and advance, events meant to aid and build up local businesses and entrepreneurs, such as a mentoring program, challenges to pitch business ideas or advancements, and the Ignite Cup. The cup is a regional competition where start-up ideas are pitched. The winner of Ignite Cup advances to the semi-finalist round for the Minnesota cup.

Gettings and Ignite’s staff and board are preparing to roll out more programs in 2020, such as a start-up school and a cohort for entrepreneurs.

Regional connectivity

Red Wing Ignite is able to give grants for economic development through organizations including the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Ignite also can help provide lawyers, business plans, designs and development and more through grants and other resources. Gettings explained that the regional connectivity aspect of Red Wing Ignite is planned to continue growing for the next three years.

For more information about Ignite and upcoming events and programs, visit: www.redwingignite.org.