Business development experts to attend conference

WORTHINGTON -- While it's not an uncommon dream to want to start a business, it often remains a fantasy thanks to how daunting such a task can seem. A quartet of economic development professionals will try to assist potential entrepreneurs and sh...

WORTHINGTON -- While it's not an uncommon dream to want to start a business, it often remains a fantasy thanks to how daunting such a task can seem.

A quartet of economic development professionals will try to assist potential entrepreneurs and show them how to follow such dreams during a three-hour session, "Launching a New Business: Navigating the Mine Field," during this week's Regional Bioscience Conference. The eighth annual event is scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Biotechnology Advancement Center, located on Prairie Drive, and is coordinated by Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp.

"Launching" is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday and includes a moderator and three speakers, each who will discuss distinct aspects of the business start-up process. Amy Woitalewicz, who is employed as business finance officer with Southwest Initiative Foundation, will serve as moderator.

One of the three individuals slated to speak is Tom Byrne, the owner of Byrne & Company Limited of Preston. A graduate of St. Cloud State University, Byrne is recognized as an experienced developer of renewable energy projects. He has spoken at conferences not only in the U.S., but in locales such as Costa Rica, Poland, China and Panama, particularly about financing within the biofuels industry and its future.

"I am both a CPA and a Certified Economic Development Financial Professional," Byrne said in a Friday email. "We assist early stage companies and determine commercial viability, and if there is a concept or technology is commercially viable, we assist in developing the company to get it ready for outside investment or financing. This usually consists in developing a viable business plan and finding the right people and markets for the company."


Byrne's company then takes the technical information gathered during the development process and builds financial models to find a commercial route to success. His portion of Thursday's "Launching" session will be devoted to creating a business plan.

"I once taught a 13-week business plan writing course, and (in Worthington) I have only 30 minutes to hit some of the key areas of consideration," Byrne said. "I am also one of the leaders in the Algal industry, and will talk about options for upper Midwest livestock facilities and how to add algae as an additional crop to their operations. Not only is it an additional income stream and diversification, it utilizes waste products of the operation to make money."

Presenting during the "Raising Capital" component of "Launching" will be Todd Leonard, executive director of Minnesota Angel Network. Leonard, who was appointed to his current position in 2010, has extensive business development experience, including raising more than $50 million in equity for various start-up companies and closing more than $350 million of industrial construction contracts.

Also tapped to speak during "Launching" is Sean Solberg, a member of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Davis Brown Law Firm and a member of the firm's intellectual property department. Solberg serves as patent counsel to clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries - including the medical device, biotech and agriculture industries. Solberg's portion of the session is titled "Protecting Your Intellectual Property."

WREDC manager Glenn Thuringer is excited about the Thursday afternoon session.

"These individuals have a lot of expertise to offer the folks attending this conference," Thuringer said. "We're very happy to have them coming here."

Plenty of others will be speaking, of course, at the Bioscience Conference this week. Presentations on Worthington's Biotechnology Advancement Center, as well as food safety, are also scheduled for Thursday, as well as product demonstrations and the traditional evening social event at the Historic Dayton House. Among the many featured orators on Friday will be Dave White, chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service.

Solberg is serving as master of ceremonies for the conference.


The general public is invited to the event. To confirm attendance register online at , or call WREDC at 372-5515 or the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919.

A complete schedule of the conference can be found at .

Daily Globe Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey can be reached at


Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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