I'm Lauren Mehler Pradhan and I am the new Director of Grow North MN. I am beyond excited to work with the groups and individuals that make Minnesota an incredible place for innovation and entrepreneurship in food, drink and agriculture. While I am not a native Minnesotan, after 12 years (and winters) here, I am proud to call this place home and I look forward to sharing that message here and outside the state.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My passion for entrepreneurs, innovation and the food space started at a young age. I still remember when I was 10 and my Dad told me our lives were “going to change" because he was starting his own company. My mother was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease when I was in high school, and I was (and still am) inspired by how my mother changed her diet and dramatically improved her health. After college, I moved to Minneapolis to work at General Mills for where I worked in marketing and brand management and I did as much as I could to positively impact the quality and integrity of the food. In my last role, I had the privilege of leading the effort to remove artificial flavors and colors from all General Mills cereals.
As I thought about my future, I was inspired by the changes happening in the food system driven by small companies and entrepreneurs, and I wanted to find ways to support and impact that community. When I saw the opportunity with Grow North, I jumped at the chance.
I want to thank the many people who worked on the idea of Grow North and nurtured it to this point. I have met with many of you and look forward to meeting more as we work together to bring the ambition of Grow North to life. As an amateur maker myself (jams, jellies and chutneys) I deeply respect the tenacity, grit and sheer willpower that it takes to try and scale something that is yours.
I truly believe that the right connections, at the right time for the right entrepreneur can ignite success, and we are going to do everything we can to make that happen. I think back to my Dad starting his business and all of the people and connections that helped him, and how much time and frustration he would have saved if they were just easier to find. Our goal is to serve entrepreneurs and help them grow, scale and sustain their businesses, create jobs and help put Minnesota on the map as a leading home and destination for food, drink and agriculture innovation and entrepreneurship.
There’s a lot we want to do at Grow North, and I will keep you posted through the blog as we build our website and develop program. In the meantime, drop me a note and say hi.
Best wishes and happy fall,
PS: Here's me with my Blue Ribbon at the State Fair for my Peach Honey Chutney