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Ness named LSBE Business Person of the Year
PHOTO: Mayor Don Ness received the award from Amy Hietapelto, Ph.D., dean of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness on Wednesday was named the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) Business Person of the Year.
“Mayor Don Ness has shown our community, region and state what a dedicated public official can do. He has been widely recognized for his leadership and commitment toward effective financial management,” Amy Amy Hietapelto, Ph.D., dean of LSBE, announced at the 22nd Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards, held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Ness, a 1997 UMD graduate, has been a role model for LSBE students, Hietapelto said, showing personal integrity and demonstrating ethical behavior in difficult situations.
“I can’t help but feel this is some kind of giant mistake has been made,” Ness said after receiving a standing ovation at the packed banquet. He dubbed his selection “highly unlikely.”
“I was a highly uncharismatic kid…Any success attributed to me is because I make a very effective blank canvas – for the goodness of our city and the goodness of the people in my life,” Ness said. “There are two pretty simple foundations for that. No matter what the circumstances, I try to put the interests of the city first, and I look for any opportunity to tell our collective story. The second is a very deep and profound appreciation for the people in my life. People have been so generous, patient and supportive during my time in public life.”
Earlier in the program, Kelly Klun was recognized with the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award and Bent Paddle Brewing Co. received the Entrepreneurial Vision Award. A special honor, the Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award, was presented to the UMD Center for Economic Development, primary sponsor of the Labovitz Awards.
Klun, who is city attorney in Ely, has dedicated much of her career to the economic and community development there, launching “Incredible Ely,” said Elaine Hansen, UMDCED director, who presented the award. Incredible Ely has partnered with the Minnesota Design Team to develop a vision for the city's physical space, and is collaborating with departments at UMD, the Twin Cities campus and UM Extension, as well as other regional groups to provide Ely with enhanced access to tools and resources to better support local business owners.
“We’re trying to create that entrepreneurial spirit that will allow for growth and allow for people to achieve their potential,” Klun said.
In its first year, Bent Paddle has generated revenue well beyond projections, and its brand is widely recognized, Hansen said.
“They have set a clear example, contribute to the community, produce a quality product and promote a core value of a sustainable work/home life balance for their employees and for themselves. They have also become leaders and mentors for others,” she said.
“We planned for roughly two or two-and-a-half years before even breaking ground,” said partner Bryon Tonnis, who credited Duluth for being an excellent city in which to launch a new business.
Other recipients include:
• Micro-Entrepreneur: Lake Superior Art Glass – Dan Neff, of Duluth . The company saw a 100 percent sales increase in its first year of business and continues to grow. The gallery showcases glass artwork from artists all around the country, and the studio offers live demonstrations and classes that connect customers with the art.
• Emerging Entrepreneur: Laurentian Monument Granite and Stone – Kandi and Mark Sutich, Virginia . It creates natural stone products from granite, marble and natural waste rock from the mining industry. Products include monuments, counters, tabletops, hardscape and landscape stone, as well as structural, architectural and decorative stone
• Established Entrepreneur: Lake Superior Consulting, LLC – Phillip Powers, Duluth. His company is an engineering and service company for the energy industries. It has nearly doubled in size each year since 2004 and has grown from three employees in one location to nearly 300 employees at four locations nationwide.
• Mature Entrepreneur: Zup's Market – Edward J. Zupancich, Babbitt. The firm has been a successful family grocery store business for nearly 100 years, The company was recognized for its community-centeredness and employing individuals with cognitive disabilities as well as retirees and high school and college students
• Environmentally Engaged Entrepreneur: A Laundry Room Inc. – Rebecca Spengler, Ely. Spengler’s laundromat features a solar thermal hot water system, including two 120-gallon tanks, and can heat water up to 120 degrees. Originally a strictly coin-operated Laundromat, A Laundry Room Inc. now includes commercial sheet services for healthcare facilities and 14 resorts.
Sponsors of the annual event include the UMD Center for Economic Development, maurices, WestmorelandFlint, Minnesota Business Finance Corporation, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, KBJR-TV, Park State Bank , Greenfield Communications, the Entrepreneur Fund, Cutting Edge Metals, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Small Business Development Centers Network.Previous Daily Briefing Articles:
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