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Panel discussion Tuesday addresses product development, innovation

Building a better mousetrap may sound like a fairly easy concept but the process for ushering a new product from the idea stage to store shelves can be a dizzying and complex journey.

A panel of three experts with extensive experience in product development, innovation and related legal issues will share their perspectives and offer invaluable advice during a free panel discussion titled “Build and Sell a Better Mousetrap,” scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday in room C224 at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

Sponsored by the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC), the event is geared toward business owners, those working in related positions, entrepreneurs and anyone else who might have an idea for developing a new or better product but is uncertain of how to design, engineer, produce and market it. With more than 75 years of experience, the panel members will share their experiences and insights as well as the challenges and successes they encountered along the way.

The panelists are:

• Jim Wills started his career as a high school chemistry teacher and a research chemist before getting his law degree and specializing in patent law. He’s currently a partner with Kalina Wills Gisvold & Clark in Nisswa. He was involved in developing a number of notable products, including Huggies diapers, the Sea Cap Bow Cover for boats, a case to carry snow skis on airplanes, and a screen for refrigerated truck trailers.

• Kent Feltz is president of KF Engineering and M-Pro LLC in Baxter. His experience is in new product development for the military, medical, retail and OEM applications. He has experience developing products for Harley-Davidson, Polaris Industries, Arctic Cat, JW Speaker and more.

• James Cardle is a patent attorney with a nationwide client roster who specializes in intellectual property, medical devices, nanotechnology, software, solar energy and more. He offices in Brainerd and Florida.

Each panelist will give a presentation followed by a 30-minute question-answer session and then a half hour of networking. Light refreshments and beverages will be available.

“This panel discussion will be extremely valuable for anyone who may be harboring a really good idea in the back of their mind but really doesn’t know how to move that idea into the development stage,” BLAEDC Executive Director Sheila Haverkamp said. “It could be a new product, it could be some new equipment for the manufacturing process, could be just about anything. Our panel members have extensive experience in what it takes to successfully develop an idea into a marketable product.”

The event is part of BLAEDC’s Business Insights series, which includes panel discussions, meetings and group discussions through BLAEDC’s Executive Initiative that features more than 30 retired or relocated business executives who are volunteering their time to help BLAEDC grow business and create jobs.

There is no charge to attend. RSVP to Erika at

Established in 1985, BLAEDC is a community-driven, nonprofit organization created to preserve and enhance the area’s economic base by expanding business, building community and growing jobs in Crow Wing County.

For more information, contact BLAEDC at 828-0096.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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