Exploring the influences on our region's economy.

National Bank of Commerce, together with leading area educational institutions and business front runner's, created and continues to sponsor the Regional Economic Indicators Forum (REIF); a comprehensive research initiative to drive growth, prosperity and collaboration across our region.

Next Forum: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 7-9:30 am (Program starts at 8)
     7:00 Sign in
     7:00 - 8:00 Networking and student poster session
     8:00 - 9:30 Student and keynote speaker presentations
DECC: Harbor Side Ballroom
Keynote Speaker: Ron Wirtz - Regional Outreach Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Topic: The Health and Trajectory of the REIF Region and our MN and WI Economies - Ron will discuss the current state and long-term trajectory of the Minnesota and Wisconsin economies, while focusing specifically on Duluth/Superior in relation to its regional peers. He will review trends in recent economic activity, annual output, job growth, hiring demand, and other economic metrics along with the role of labor supply on future growth. Ron will also use an interactive survey to anonymously poll conference attendees to gauge how firms are performing in the current economy and what their outlook is for 2020.
Cost: Advance registration $25, at the door $30 and only checks are accepted. 

Registration closes Sunday, March 29 at 11:59 pm. 

ron-wirtz-HIGH-RES.jpgRon Wirtz is a Regional Outreach Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Ron’s primary responsibilities involve tracking current business conditions across the six-state Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northwest Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana.

Ron tracks activity in employment and wages – which are central to the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of promoting stable prices and maximum employment – along with construction, real estate, tourism and consumer spending. Part of Ron’s work includes extensive outreach to business and community leaders, and he gives frequent speeches on Ninth District regional economies.

Ron is a contributor to the Beige Book, which is a report of current business conditions published by the Federal Reserve System every six weeks. Previous to this position, Ron was the editor of the fedgazette, a regional business and economics journal published by the Minneapolis Fed. Here, he conducted in-depth research on such topics as labor markets and job growth, health care consolidation, the Bakken oil boom, income mobility, disability, public pensions, and many others.

The goals of the REIF are to:

  • Support business owners in their business decisions by gathering key local economic indicators and trend information
  • Develop specific economic indicators for this region that are not readily available to decision makers
  • Develop tools to assess our progress in economic growth, prepare baseline measures that will allow comparison with other regions and measure future progress of the region
  • Track the region’s participation in the “new economy” and development in the high-tech arena
  • Collect and monitor data related to county-level economic performance, business and consumer confidence and regional stock performance
  • Bring professionals together with business owners for discussion about the local economy and related critical issues in a collaborative, non-political environment
  • Create a business recruitment and retention tool by publishing the information

Map of REIF countiesThe REIF Region is a 15-county area that covers Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin. The eight counties of Minnesota include the Arrowhead Region — Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties — along with Pine County. The seven counties of Wisconsin include Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Sawyer and Washburn.

The REIF is governed by a steering and advisory committee comprised of representative(s) from:

  • National Bank of Commerce
  • College of St. Scholastica
  • University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • University of Wisconsin, Superior
  • Small Business Development Center of Minnesota
  • Small Business Development Center of Wisconsin
  • APEX
  • Barr Engineering
  • The Development Association 
Spring 2019 Student Presenters
Fall 2019 Student Presenters

Resources such as APEX (Area Partnership for Economic Expansion), Business North and the Development Association of Superior-Douglas County are utilized as needed.

Meet the Regional Economics Faculty Research Staff.


Prior REIF Presentations and Reports:

To view a video of the Fall '18 forum please visit National Bank of Commerce's YouTube channel.