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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
Minnesota Chamber President David Olson dies at 57
David C. Olson, 57, longtime president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, died Wednesday after a fight with non‐Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Olson had been fighting the disease for about 18 months and recently celebrated its disappearance, said Minnesota Chamber Board Member Bill Bennett, CEO of LHB in Duluth. But the cancer suddenly reappeared stronger than before.
"He was always passionate about doing the right thing," and worked hard to bring people representing both sides of an issue to the table, Bennett said. "He was professional and helped everyone make sense out of complicated issues."
Olson was a frequent visitor to northeastern Minnesota and had a strong following with the area's business community.
"He didn't have just a metro focus. He realized we needed a statewide focus," and frequently assisted with timber and mining issues on the Iron Range, said Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bud Stone.
“David’s deep commitment to improving the state’s economy and the lives of Minnesotans carried throughout his career,” said Bill Blazar, senior vice president of public affairs and business development at the Minnesota Chamber. “He loved our state. He worked every day to make it better and loved being engaged in anything and everything that would make our economy stronger.”
Bennett said Blazar is serving as interim president of the group.
Olson was named to the position in 1991.
"For a generation or two, we were fortunate to have him in place. This will be a big transition for the Minnesota Chamber," said Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Ross.
Hermantown Chamber Executive Director Mike Lundstrom described Olson as "a bright, driven man with a sense of vision," and said his knowledge of Minnesota, its political and business institutions will be difficult to replace.
"He wasn't afraid to take tough stands, but he never let the issues become personal," Lundstrom said.
"He had a big personality that served him and the Chamber well. I had a great respect for him," Ross said. Stone agreed.
"He had a very strong influence in Minnesota politics and was always interested interested in helping other Chamber executives, who often face significant challenges," he said.
“The Minnesota Chamber is stronger than ever because of an excellent board of directors and staff. David built that each and every year,” said Jeff DeYoung, managing partner at Baker Tilly and chair of the Minnesota Chamber Board. “He was also directly responsible for building the statewide voice of business at the Capitol.”
Olson had a successful background in chamber work before joining the Minnesota Chamber. He served five years as president of the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and three years as executive director of the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce. Prior to that, he held staff positions in economic development, transportation and energy at the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. He also was a member of local and national boards. He currently served on the boards for the National Association of Manufacturers, United Way and Northern Star Council Boy Scouts. He was chair‐elect of the Council of State Manufacturers Association, lead business representative on the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council and a member of the Generation Next Partnership Board. He served on a number of other business and community work groups.
Olson earned a master of science degree in public administration from Mankato State University, and a bachelor of arts degree in urban/political science from St. Olaf College in Northfield. He was an Eagle Scout. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, sons Erik and Nick.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
To read more, see the Star Tribune.Previous Daily Briefing Articles:
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