Meet Our Team

Philip KnutsonPhil K edited

Philip Knutson is our program manager. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with an emphasis in business, finance, and entrepreneurship. In addition to the SBDC he works as a program specialist for business development and the lead coordinator of the IDEA Competition at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.  In Philip’s spare time he enjoys all sorts of outdoor recreation, being with his family, and he acts as the Executive Director of the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Meet Our Team

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.

Meet Our Team

Grant Oppegaard

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.

Kristjan ThorlaciusKris_Thorlacius

Kristjan is a senior at Bemidji State University and is studying Business Administration with emphases on Management and Entrepreneurship.  Academically, Kristjan serves as a Student Senator, as well as a Student Commissioner.  In his free time, Kristjan enjoys spending time with his family, camping, and doing anything outside.


Bradley Bohrer

Bradley is a senior at Bemidji State University and is studying Business Administration with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship. In his spare time, Bradley enjoys playing golf, being in the outdoors, and spending time with his family.

Meet Our Team

Dana Schnortz

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.

Meet Our Team

Deborah McGregor

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.

gavinGavin Herrera

Gavin Herrera, a business consultant, offers start-up assistance, business plan development, and financial analysis for the Northwest Small Business Development Center.  He graduated from Bemidji State University with an emphasis in business management.  In addition to the SBDC he started an equipment lease finance company with his father in 2008.  He has his expertise in Alternative Financing and Non-Bank Finance which he works nationwide providing.  Doing business with small business all the way up to Fortune 1000 corporations he understands the ways to access capital in alternative forms.  He also sits on an economic development advisory board for the HUBZone Contractors National Council in VA.  In Gavin’s spare time he enjoys anything outdoors including hunting, archery, fishing, golfing and bird dog training with his yellow lab, Tuska Lou.