Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 02:00 pm

Committee members discuss Legacy Investment for Technology Fund 

BISMARCK, N.D. – The Legacy Investment for Technology (LIFT) Committee held its first strategic planning last week on Oct. 2.  

Consisting of seven appointed members, the LIFT Committee is responsible for the application evaluations of the loan program supporting technology advancement for North Dakota businesses through the commercialization of intellectual property. 

“We have assembled an impressive group of private-sector leaders versed in early-stage capitalization, commercialization of intellectual property, and experts in industries we hope to see grow and expand in North Dakota,” said Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer. “With strong leadership, through this new program, we expect to see exciting technological advancements and enhanced success of companies, leading to economic impact.” 

The North Dakota Department of Commerce will work with the Bank of North Dakota to manage and administer the loan fund.  

“This is an important next step as North Dakota continues down the path to diversify its economic base,” said Eric Hardmeyer, president of the Bank of North Dakota. “Connecting university research with entrepreneurial efforts is a sound strategy in fulfilling the bank’s mission to promote agriculture, commerce and industry.” 

To maximize the loan’s impact, the Development Fund board also will hold a planning session to create a synchronized approach between the two funds. 

“By combining the two funds, we will be able to augment startup growth and create diversification that will maximize the ability to support new programming efforts, said James Leiman,” director of Economic Development and Finance at the North Dakota Department of Commerce. 

The North Dakota Department of Commerce leads the efforts to attract, retain and expand wealth and improve the quality of life for the people of North Dakota.  

Seven Appointed Committee Members

Michael Jablon 

Michael Jablon, senior director of information at Aldevron, leads information systems initiatives to improve efficiency, streamline operations, optimize information security and design innovative systems that enable Aldevron’s clients to more rapidly advance treatments and gene therapies for their patients. Jablon joined Aldevron in 2008 as a director and program manager. He served in various leadership roles in program management, contract management and information systems management. Jablon has 20 years of combined experience in information systems and project management and serves as an adjunct professor at the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College specializing in management information systems.  
Prior to joining Aldevron, Jablon held a leadership role at custom engineering firm Appareo, which specialized in commercial electronics and software applications for the aviation industry. Prior to that, he was a senior manager at global software development and service provider SEI. 

Jablon holds a Master of Business Administration with undergraduate degrees in economics and communication from North Dakota State University. Jablon resides in Fargo with his wife, Karen, and their three children 

Bart Holaday 

As managing director, Bart Holaday headed the Private Markets Group of UBS Asset Management and its predecessor entities for 15 years prior to his retirement in January 2001. Holaday managed more than $19 billion in investments in venture capital, buyouts, real estate, timber and oil and gas.  

Prior to joining Brinson Partners Inc., Holaday was a vice president and principal of InnoVen Venture Capital Group from 1983 to 1985. Prior to InnoVen, Holaday founded and was president for three years of Tenax Oil and Gas Corporation, an onshore Gulf Coast exploration and production company. He also has 12 years of senior management experience with both Gulf Oil and the federal government (Department of Defense, Department of the Interior and the Federal Energy Administration). Holaday is a chartered financial analyst and graduated with honors from the United States Air Force Academy and was a Rhodes Scholar. He holds a master’s degree from Oxford University, a Juris Doctorate from the George Washington School of Law and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of North Dakota. He served on the boards of MDU Resources and Alerus. 

Lauris Molbert 

Lauris Molbert is the executive chair and member of the Investment Committee of Kilbourne Group and the Downtown Fargo Real Estate Fund I. Fargo-based Kilbourne Group is a real estate developer with services that include design, leasing, construction management and property management. Kilbourne Group specializes in urban and community renewal projects, including commercial, retail and multifamily uses. Molbert’s professional experience includes executive chair and member of Investment Committee, Kilbourne Group, 2017-present; CEO and chair of board of TMI Hospitality, 2011-2017; executive vice president and COO of Otter Trail Corporation, 1995-2011; and attorney for Conmy, Feste, Bossart, Hubbard and Corwin LTD, 1983-1995. 

Molbert currently serves as the board director for Choice Financial and is also a general partner for Aurthur Ventures. Molbert served on boards for Sanford Health, BlackRidge Financial, Community First Bankshares Inc., and the University of North Dakota Foundation and Alumni Association. Molbert holds a B.A./B.S. in banking and financing and accounting from the University of North Dakota and a Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law.  

Kodee Furst 

As a co-founder and the managing partner at Annie Capital, Kodee Furst leads the firm's efforts in investing in the power of women entrepreneurs through funding, education and community development.  She has worked in multiple industries, including non-profit, oil and gas and hospitality. She has spent much of that time in business development and has led growth activities across the United States. Furst currently serves on the board for the North Dakota Center of Technology and Business and is a founding partner for North Dakota's Women's Entrepreneurship Week. 

Tommy Kenville 

After graduating from the University of North Dakota (UND) with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Kenville accepted a job at the UND Aerospace Foundation (UNDAF) as director of Student Services. He remained at UNDAF for 15 years, becoming the vice president of business development and secured major contracts and philanthropic gifts for both the foundation and UND.  

Kenville established T-Kort LLC, a property development company, in 1999 and soon after became managing member for Hilton Garden Inn/UND. His entrepreneurial spirit continued as he founded Tglobal Inc. in 2002, a company focused on consulting, logistics support and warehouse space for startup businesses. He also became involved in angel investing as chair of Valley Angel Investment Fund LLC. It was the first fund of its type in North Dakota and raised equity capital of $1.2 million.  

Kenville served as rainmaker and vice president of development for the UND Center for Innovation Foundation from 2006 to 2018, mentoring budding entrepreneurs and judging business plans for Innovate ND, Idea Fest and various school competitions.  

Seeing potential in unmanned aerial systems, Kenville founded Unmanned Applications Institute International (UAI) as the first private drone company in North Dakota in 2010. Soon after, based on an idea Kenville presented to U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, the North Dakota Airspace Integration Team was formed and this vision became reality as North Dakota was selected as the nation's first UAS test site by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013. UAI merged with Isight RPV Services to form Midwest Drone Group LLC in 2017. It operations have grown to more than 20  employees/contractors, including 13 highly qualified pilots, with flight operations in 33 states and seven countries. 

Kenville’s passion for entrepreneurship has led him to assist others in growing their dreams and maximizing potential. He has established nine businesses and invested in more than 20 startups. He serves on multiple boards, including North Dakota Economic Development Foundation, Thief River Falls, Minn., Education Foundation, Chair Research ND, KeyedIn Solutions-Minneapolis and Dakota Venture Group.  

When not “entrepreneuring,” Kenville enjoys UND Fighting Hawks hockey and spending time at the lake. 

Rick Thoreson 

Thoreson is a principal of Thoreson Steffes Trust Company, which focuses on portfolio management and investment consulting. Thoreson has more than 30 years of experience, including chief investment officer for the Private Client Group division of a large national bank. An experienced wealth management professional, his focus is on managing equity, fixed income and alternative investment portfolios for taxable clients.   

Thoreson has held the designation of chartered financial analyst (CFA) since 1991 and is a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society of Minnesota. He is a graduate of Minnesota State University – Moorhead and serves on the board of the MSUM Foundation. He is a past chair of the Sanford Foundation – Fargo Board of Directors. 

Randy Schneider 

Schneider has 39 years experience as a certified public account, business advisor and tax consultant in the manufacturing, real estate, transportation, production agriculture, bio science and construction industries. Schneider holds a verifiable track record for completing multimillion-dollar projects.  

Schneider is currently a board member and treasurer of the North Dakota Bio Science Association. He previously served on the board of North Dakota Energy Policy Commission, North Dakota Renewable Energy Council, North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association, US BIO Hankinson and the Regional International Trade Industrial Development Association. Schneider also served as the chairman for the North Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership Inc., president of the North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association and was a funding shareholder and treasurer of Ideal Energy Corporation.  

Schneider is a certified public accountant and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Dakota.