Zeal announces board of directors, officers

SIOUX FALLS, SD – The Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship has added Kurt Loudenback, Matthew Paulson and Karla Santi to its 11-member board of directors.

Loudenback is the owner and CEO of Grand Prairie Foods Inc., a Sioux Falls-based provider of cuisine to national hospitality businesses and private-label clients and the maker of its own branded products. Loudenback and his wife, Valerie, bought the company in 2003 and have grown it from 15 to 150 employees. He previously spent almost 20 years with Purina Mills Inc., including time as business group director, before becoming president of Pipestone Family Farms.

Paulson is an entrepreneur, author and angel investor. He is the founder of MarketBeat, which empowers retail investors to make better trading decisions by providing real-time financial information and objective market research. Paulson has authored eight books on personal finance and has invested in more than 40 early-stage, high-growth companies as an angel investor. He chairs Falls Angel Fund, a regional angel fund that invests in businesses based in South Dakota and surrounding states.

Santi is CEO and founding partner at Blend Interactive, a firm that helps institutions and agencies tackle complicated web and content problems. She serves on the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and is the chair of the chamber’s Business Leadership Council. She is an active mentor through EmBe’s Women’s Leadership Program and strives to encourage young women to explore STEM programs and pursue careers in technology.

“Our new board members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Zeal,” said Rich Naser, Zeal’s president. “We are fortunate to be able to draw on their expertise as we continue to enhance the resources we can provide to the Sioux Falls entrepreneurial community.”

In addition, the following board members have been elected to serve as officers: Paul Ten Haken, chair; Mike Vetter, vice chair; and Chad Hatch, secretary-treasurer. 

The other members of the Zeal board are Jason Ball, Will Bushee, Laurie Knutson and Steve Statz. The future Sioux Falls Development Foundation leader also will become a member of the board.

Zeal at 2329 N. Career Ave. offers services for entrepreneurs at every stage of business ownership, including co-working space, incubator and accelerator programs, and affiliate memberships. Zeal companies collectively have secured more than $172 million in equity financing and hold 65 patents.