MARSHALL — Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) has announced a partnership with North Star Mutual Insurance Company, of Cottonwood, Minnesota, that will lead to an investment of $3 million in the SMSU School of Business. The investment will establish the North Star Mutual School of Business and provide funding for academic programming, facilities, and scholarships that will create new opportunities for students.

The $3 million investment will provide funds that will make both an immediate impact for students and establish an endowment to provide ongoing support. The partnership will strengthen the current school of business by enhancing facilities and increasing funding for programs at SMSU. In addition, new scholarship and internship opportunities will be established as part of the North Star Mutual partnership to help support students in their academic endeavors and career development. North Star Mutual will receive naming rights to the business school and maintain a role on a special advisory committee made up of both school faculty and local business representatives.

“We are grateful to North Star Mutual and their leadership team who see the value in further investing in the next generation of SMSU students,” said SMSU President Kumara Jayasuriya. “This partnership will help us expand opportunities for students in southwest Minnesota which is critical to our mission and allows us to continue meeting the workforce needs of our regional employers.”

Southwest Minnesota State University is a public university in Marshall, Minnesota currently offering four-year degrees in liberal arts and professional studies. The North Star Mutual School of Business will house programs in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, and Business Administration while also supporting programs such as Agribusiness and Hospitality Management. SMSU will also be enhancing the curriculum in Risk Management as part of the new partnership. This investment will make a significant and immediate impact on students at SMSU and create a direct link to the business community in Southwest Minnesota.

“We are very excited to be in a position to support Southwest Minnesota State University in this way,” said Pete Hellie (SMSU Class of ’84), President and CEO of North Star Mutual. “We see it as an investment in the growth and development of future leaders, and ultimately, the communities of southwestern Minnesota and beyond.”

North Star Mutual, a Midwestern property-casualty insurer, has called the area “home” for more than a century and has seen steady growth and financial success over the years. The company, now serving over 375,000 policyholders, recently reached two major milestones, recording over $1 billion in assets and $500 million in annual written premiums. North Star Mutual currently employs a staff of 280 full-time employees: 220 at their home office in Cottonwood and roughly 60 in the field throughout their eight-state operating territory.

“SMSU is a great school and attracts people to our area from all over the Midwest and other parts of the world,” said Hellie. “For us, and many other area businesses, it’s important to contribute to the success of the university and the next generation of people who will be making a difference in our world and in our industries.” North Star Mutual currently employs 55 SMSU graduates, who work in several different capacities including underwriting, claims, accounting, IT, and research and development.

“We are very fortunate and thankful to have a regional partner like North Star Mutual publicly supporting SMSU and affirming the quality of our faculty, staff, and students. We are very excited for what the future holds within the North Star Mutual School of Business and look forward to building upon our partnership,” said Jayasuriya.