Cook County Higher Ed hires new business consultant

Staff report

Pat Campanaro Pat Campanaro Cook County businesses have a new advocate and helper in Pat Campanaro, Cook County Higher Education’s newest staff member.

Campanaro, who has an extensive background in sales and marketing with Verizon, joins the CCHE staff as a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultant. Higher Ed employs Campanaro through a contract with the Small Business Development Center in Duluth.

Previously, SBDC consultant Jennifer Pontinen, headquartered in Virginia, traveled to Cook County once a month to provide individual consulting services to county businesses and to entrepreneurs seeking to start a new business. But Pontinen’s client load on the Iron Range was making it difficult for her to travel to Cook County.

The Small Business Development Center is jointly funded by the U.S. Small Business Adminisitration (SBA), Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and a variety of other state and local partners. Its charter is to encourage business development and provide small businesses the resources they need to compete and thrive in today’s economy by linking them with the knowledge and resources of federal, state and local governments and with the academic communities.

Campanaro will be available for oneon one consultation as well as to provide training seminars and offer financial assistance by providing access to capital resources.

“I am excited to be a part of a larger community intent on growing the economic climate here,” Campanaro said. “SBDC offers a variety of resources including online workshops, business analysis and real-life experience that can benefit many of our area businesses.”

“It’s a terrific opportunity for Cook County,” CCHE Executive Director Paula Sundet Wolf said. “Whereas Jennifer Pontinen could dedicate 13 hours a month (weather permitting) to Cook County businesses, Pat Campanaro will be on the job 15 hours a week, providing the same sort of personal consulting to county businesses.”

“This very well may be an interim arrangement,” Sundet Wolf said. “Eventually, we need to get the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority and the new Cook County Chamber of Commerce in the mix as well. But neither is able to take this on right now, so Higher Ed jumped on the opportunity to ensure it was secured for the county before it disappeared.”

Initially, Campanaro will share an office with Jim Boyd, who coordinates business education for Higher Ed and also serves as the interim executive director of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce.

Campanaro can be reached at 651-336-2964 or or by calling Higher Ed at 218-387-3411.

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