12 Minnesota Small Businesses, Leaders Honored During National Small Business Week
Twelve small businesses and business leaders in Minnesota were recognized on Monday as the state winners of the 2018 National Small Business Week Awards, an event celebrated annually by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Winners were chosen based on their success in starting or helping small businesses in Minnesota, as well as for their efforts to give back to their community. Every business selected was a recipient of SBA assistance, whether it was directly or from one of SBA’s partners, in the form of loans, training or consultation.
“With more than 500,000 small businesses in Minnesota, we are excited to take this time to celebrate the efforts of a few of the best and brightest,” said Nancy Libersky, district director of SBA’s Minnesota district office, in a statement.
One winner was chosen for each category in the SBA’s Minnesota-focused program:
- Small Business Person of the Year — Brenda Nolby of Ham Lake-based Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory, Inc.
- Encore Entrepreneur of the Year — Mark Johnson of Kasota-based Artisan Restoration LLC
- Family-Owned Small Business of the Year — Bert Kissoond of Crystal-based Randy’s Booth Company
- Minority Small Business Champion of the Year — Mary Lundeen of Duluth-based UMD Center for Economic Development
- Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year — Sergio Espinoza of Hanley Falls-based E & H Piping, LLC
- SBDC Excellence and Innovation Center of the Year — St. Cloud-based Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center
- Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year — Clint Kruger of Minneapolis-based Preferred Electric, Inc.
- Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year — Dennis Welch of Arden Hills-based Frandsen Bank and Trust
- Women Owned Small Business of the Year — Karen Schaar of Rochester-based Roca Climbing and Fitness, Inc.
- Women’s Business Center of Excellence of the Year — Minneapolis-based WomenVenture
- Women Small Business Champion of the Year — Marnie Ochs-Raleigh of St. Paul-based Evolve Systems
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year — Katie Steller of Minneapolis-based Steller Hair Company
National Small Business Week was the creation of President John F. Kennedy. Signed in 1963 by presidential proclamation, National Small Business Week has been celebrated every year since. In 2018, the week is set to take place between April 29 and May 5.
Winners of the Minnesota district’s Small Business Week Awards this year will be honored at a luncheon on May 11 in Minneapolis.
Notably, SBA administrator Linda McMahon visited the Twin Cities last October to advocate for the government agency. “Part of the reason I’m on this tour is to make sure that SBA is not the best-kept secret in the country,” McMahon told TCB at the time. “We’re not just about making loans. We’re about mentoring and networking.”