Regional Employer Suport Network plans May symposium


— Managers and owners interested in strengthening their organizational posture during hard economic times have until Tuesday, April 28, to register for the Regional Employer Support Network Symposium scheduled Tuesday, May 5, at the Hungry Bear Banquet and Conference Center in Bemidji.

Coordinated by the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation, the one-day event will assist businesses and organizations that employ more than one person to explore effective marketing strategies that produce results in the current financial and political climate.

The registration fee is $75 per person for the event, which begins with registration at 8 a.m. and concludes with a networking opportunity at 4:30 p.m. The cost includes conference materials, lunch, break refreshments, and the closing reception. The Hungry Bear Banquet and Conference Center is located near the Home Depot at 2300 24th Ave. NW in Bemidji.

Keith Johanneson will provide the opening and keynote address when he presents “Flying 30,000 Feet in an Economic Pearl Harbor.” The session is intended to inspire registrants to take a realistic look at the current status of their enterprise and build upon its strengths to confront adversity.

Johanneson is president and CEO of the Johanneson Companies, a position he assumed in the early 1970s by succeeding his father at the age of 28. Over the past decades, he reinvented his business many times to where it now encompasses 23 retail food, liquor, gasoline, pharmacy and food service businesses; three real estate companies; and a construction and development company.

Following the opening address, Mike Smith will issue a call for planning, action and change in the current business environment.  Smith has owned and operated MJB Home Center in Bemidji since 2000. He previously held positions with the finance division of Cenex for over 21 years and was chief operating officer of the Youngdahl Companies in Minnetonka for two years.

Dave Heilig, assistant marketing professor at Bemidji State, will close out the morning with “Gut Check Marketing 101,” when he will discuss retro marketing trends, challenge stagnation issues, explore diversity avenues, and introduce new marketing concepts. Heilig joined the BSU faculty in 2008 and holds an undergraduate degree from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and an M.B.A. from the University of Nebraska.

Deanna Murphy will kick off the afternoon by outlining how businesses and organizations can capitalize on employee strengths when preparing for the future. Murphy is a continuous improvement specialist at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls.

Murphy’s post-lunch program will be followed by three short, fast-paced segments:
• “Trends in Employment and Wages in the Headwaters Region,” presented by Nate Dorr, regional analyst with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development;
• “Employee Benefits,” Carol Marcella, benefits manager for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe; and
• “Changes in Employment Laws,” Brian Benkstein, employment and labor law attorney who focuses on management issues for the Twin Cities firm of Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon & Vogt.

The final presentation features Ken Howe, who will encapsulate information from the day’s program into the concluding session “Putting It All Together.” Howe is the president of Northland Connect Broadband LLC, which services 26 counties in northeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin with satellite-based internet. He also is owner of Dunn Bros Coffee in Bemidji.

Registration for the symposium can be completed online at More information is available via email at or by contacting the CRI at (218) 755-4900, toll free (888) 738-3224.

The symposium is organized by the Regional Employer Support Network, which was formed after area employers expressed the need for a network of professionals involved in human resource development and management. The support network usually meets the first Thursday of each month with regular sessions lasting two hours. Lengthier quarterly sessions are also scheduled.

Center for Research and Innovation staff facilitate the network’s activities with support provided by North Country Health Services, North Country Business Products, Potlatch, Bi-CAP, Pinnacle Publishing, and Anderson Fabrics, and Johanneson, Inc.

Individuals who wish to be added to the RESN mailing list or have questions about this program should contact the Center for Research and Innovation at (218) 755-4900; toll free, (888) 738-3224; e-mail,; or at

– 8 a.m. – Regional Employer Support Network Symposium on strengthening organizational posture during difficult economic times. Coordinated by Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation. Location: Hungry Bear Banquet and Conference Center, 2300 24th Ave. NW, Bemidji. Registration: $75, includes lunch, break refreshments, conference materials and admittance to a closing reception. NOTE APRIL 28 REGISTRATION DEADLINE. Information:;; (218) 755-4900; (888) 738-3224.