20 MN Biz Leaders Vying for Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Two-thirds of the finalists for this year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Upper Midwest are leaders of Minnesota-based companies.

Ernst & Young, LLP, on Wednesday announced the pool of finalists for this year's Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Upper Midwest-and there are 20 Minnesota business leaders in the running.

The annual program recognizes entrepreneurs “who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.” The Upper Midwest competition comprises business leaders from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

Of the 30 finalists, the following 20 individuals lead Minnesota-based companies:

Amy Nelson, founder, president, and CEO of Elk River-based Accurate Home Care, LLC
Angela and Daniel Bastian, cofounders and owners of North Mankato-based Angie's Artisan Treats, LLC (parent company of Angie's Kettle Corn)
Cheri Beranek, co-founder, president, and CEO of Plymouth-based Clearfield, Inc.
Marni Bumsted and Jane Dailey, cofounders of Minneapolis-based Hollywood Fashion Secrets, Inc.
Charlie Kratsch, founder and CEO of Blaine-based Infinite Campus, Inc.
Melanie Nelson, founder and CEO of Owatonna-based Learning ZoneXpress
Jeffrey Gau, CEO of St. Cloud-based Marco, Inc.
Gary Shope, CEO of Minneapolis-based Medafor, Inc.
Michael Wethington, CEO of Minneapolis-based Outsell, LLC
Brian Taylor, founding partner, chief investment officer, and CEO of Minnetonka-based Pine River Capital Management LP
Brad Cleveland and Larry Lukis, CEO and chief technology officer, respectively, of Maple Plain-based Proto Labs, Inc.
Darren Nauss, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Razr Marketing
Jeffrey Kiesel, CEO of Mendota Heights-based Restaurant Technologies, Inc.
William Jurewicz, founder and chief creative officer of Minneapolis-based Space150
Craig Kruckeberg, CEO of Blooming Prairie-based Spray Control Systems, Inc.
Douglas Kohrs, president and CEO of Tornier, Inc., an Amsterdam-based company that has its U.S. headquarters in Edina
Howard Root, CEO of Minneapolis-based Vascular Solutions, Inc.

This year's regional winners will be announced on June 14 at an event at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis. The number of winners varies from year to year as determined by the award program's judges.

The regional winners will advance to compete for the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year award, which will be announced at a gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 17.