Several months after Twin Cities Business named Don Ness its “Person of the Year,” the Duluth mayor earned a similar title at the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards, an annual program that honors successful entrepreneurs from throughout the Twin Ports region and Northeastern Minnesota.
While Ness is a politician rather than a businessman, he’s been recognized for his work in bolstering Duluth’s economy, which is home to many expanding businesses. In January, TCB honored Ness as its “2013 Person of the Year.”
On Wednesday, the University of Minnesota–Duluth’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics gave Ness its annual “Business Person of the Year Award,” an honor previously awarded to northern Minnesota business magnates such as Jeno Paulucci (who is also a member of TCB’s Minnesota Business Hall of Fame), the Duluth News Tribune reported.
Roughly 400 attendees gathered for the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards luncheon at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, and Dean Amy Hietapelto, when presenting Ness his award, reportedly referred to the mayor as “the CEO of a $250 million organization who has made difficult business decisions with personal integrity.” (That “organization” being the city of Duluth.)
According to the UMD Center for Economic Development, 42 businesses were nominated for this year’s program, which marked the 22nd annual awards.
Here are the other Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards recipients, including a quote from UMD explaining why they won:
• Lake Superior Art Glass, Dan Neff, Duluth (Micro Entrepreneur category)
“Minnesota’s premier glass art gallery and studio, Lake Superior Art Glass 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.”
• Laurentian Monument Granite and Stone, Kandi and Mark Sutich, Virginia (Emerging Entrepreneur)
“Laurentian Monument Granite and Stone 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.”
• Lake Superior Consulting, LLC, Phillip Powers, Duluth (Established Entrepreneur)
“Lake Superior Consulting, LLC (LSC) is an engineering and service company for the energy industries. They specialize in integrity management of high-pressure pipelines. LSC 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. It prides itself on placing customer service as its most important ‘deliverable.’”
• Zup’s Market, Edward J. Zupancich, Babbitt (Mature Entreprenuer)
“A successful family grocery store business for nearly 100 years, Zup’s Market has expanded its long tradition of civic involvement and hometown pride throughout its Northeastern Minnesota locations. The company is known for its community-centeredness and employing individuals with cognitive disabilities as well as retirees and high school and college students.”
• A Laundry Room Inc., Rebecca Spengler, Ely (Environmentally Engaged Entrepreneur)
“Rebecca Spengler has turned a notoriously high-energy-consumption business into an alternative-energy success. Her 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.”
• Kelly Klun of Klun Law Firm, Ely (Entrepreneurial Leadership)
UMD said that Kelly Klun, who serves as Ely's city attorney, "has dedicated much of her career to the economic and community development of her hometown" and "advises on many topics, not just legal issues." For example, she recently organized the "Incredible Ely campaign" which includes a network of partners that are working to provide Ely with "enhanced access to tools and resources to better support local business owners."
• Bent Paddle Brewing Company, Duluth (Entrepreneurial Vision)
The university said that the relatively new Bent Paddle Brewing Company "has been widely accepted in the Duluth and regional economy because the people involved had a clear, organized, and well researched plan that when implemented became a thriving business." In its first year, the company has reached revenue "well ahead of projections, and their brand is widely recognized." The school described the brewery as "leaders and mentors for others who are in business" and called out its "core value of a sustainable work/home life balance for their employees and themselves."