Meet Our Team
Phil Knutson, is our interim director for the Northwest Small Business Development Center and is also the business development specialist for the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. Phil has a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in business, finance, management, and entrepreneurship from the University of North Dakota in 2006. Prior to UND, he attended The North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND. At NW SBDC, he answers client questions and is knowledgeable of various lending programs. In his free time, Phil enjoys spending quality time with his wife and two children while being the director of the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon as well as assisting the Paul Bunyan Triathlon.
Forest “Skip” Carpenter
Forest “Skip” Carpenter, a business consultant, offers excellent consultation on cash flow management, financial projections & plans, SBA loans and business start-ups. He is certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional and Housing Development Finance Professional, and has served on the Board of Directors for both the Minnesota Business Finance Corporation and Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Skip also worked as a planning and development consultant before coming to the Northwest Small Business Development Center. Over the years, he has assisted individuals in planning, business development activities, and grant writing. Skip has a degree from University of Arizona.
Grant Oppegaard, a business consultant, offers start-up assistance, financial analysis, strategic management and employee relations for clients. He also has a passion for turning around stressed businesses. He received his MPA from University of New Hampshire and has over 35 years experience in retail, direct marketing, and manufacturing companies. For 10 years, he was CEO of Genmar Holdings and took their stock value from $2 per share to $13.29 per share. Grant enjoys working with people and is a master at dealing with growth, adversity, and change.
Jim Soncrant, a business consultant, provides QuickBooks support, financial analysis, and start-up assistance to clients. He has been a consultant for over 15 years and has trained over 1,500 Northwest Small Business Development Center clients while consistently receiving excellent customer service ratings. Jim received his MBA from Houston Baptist University and holds certification as an Economic Development Finance Professional
Dana Schnortz, a business consultant, specializes in business plan development for the Northwest Small Business Development Center. He received his MBA from the University of Phoenix and since 2009 has advised and mentored students in the Small Business Administration Program at Oak Hills Christian College. Classes facilitated include Intro to Business, Personal Finance, Marketing, and Business Law and Ethics. Outside of work, Dana volunteers for Bemidji’s Evangelical Covenant Church and Servants of Shelter.
Deb McGregor received her undergraduate degree from Concordia College with a B.A. in Organizational Communications and French. Her Master’s degree is from North Dakota State University with a M.A. in Speech Communications and an emphasis in Organizational Culture and Structure. Her thesis project was on life coaching. Deb is also a Certified Professional Co-active Coach (CPCC) through the Coaches Training Institute. She is a member of the Minnesota Coaches Association and International Coach Federation (ICF) where she holds the ACC Credential. Deb has many years of experience working in the areas of marketing and development with several non-profit organizations as well as for-profit entities, especially entrepreneurs.
Deb’s personal mission is to assist individuals in the development of their fullest potential through innovative training, consulting and coaching. She values trust, integrity, faith, nature, loyalty and relationships. Her passion for every project in which she is involved is inspiring and motivating. Deb leads by example and sets high standards for herself and others.
When you work with Deb, expect to come away refreshed, energized, motivated and committed to making yourself, your community and the world even better than they are now.