Plugged In: September 2012

Plugged In: September 2012

The best opportunities for networking this month.

September 6

Minnesota Cup Final Awards

If you’re a local entrepreneur looking to network, you can’t do much better than the Minnesota Cup, which has become the biggest statewide new-venture competition in the nation. The final awards event brings together Minnesota entrepreneurs as well as business leaders, investors, and academic partners involved in the contest. Dan Grigsby, founding partner of mobile app developer Drivetrain, says the event is perfect for cross-pollination. “It’s not just tech entrepreneurs; there are also medical device folks and folks in retail and across the spectrum.” The University of Minnesota will also present its Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

5 p.m., free, McNamara Alumni Center, Minneapolis, 612-625-9808,

September 7

Gotta Dance! Cowles Center Gala

Summer is over, and the September calendar is packed with opening nights, sporting events, and galas. Mike Ott, central region president for U.S. Bank’s Private Client Reserve, says the Cowles gala appeals to the wealth-management clients he works with. “It’s different—it’s not going to be a typical rubber-chicken lunch or dinner,” he says. “It is world-class, and it’s just so fun to be a part of that.” The evening features appearances by local dance groups such as MOMIX and Buckets and Tap Shoes, as well as a tribute to benefactors Bob and Kathie Goodale. If you want to mingle with a more intimate crowd, get the $500 ticket for the 5 p.m.

VIP reception. 6 p.m., $250–$500, The Depot Minneapolis, 612-206-3600,

September 8

Walker Art Center’s Avant Garden

The Walker stepped up its annual benefit last year, throwing an all-out late-summer party in the Sculpture Garden. This month’s Avant Garden should be a worthy successor, reprising the festive dining, drinking, and dancing for 700 Twin Citians. “It’s a broad range of folks: There are people who are philanthropists and benefactors and entrepreneurs and business leaders, and there are people who are just interested in the arts,” says Joseph Lally, vice president of government relations and compliance for Delta Dental of Minnesota. Gold Key ticketholders get the full lineup of live and silent auctions, food, and cocktails, while Silver Key ticketholders join in later for the more party-focused portion of the evening. New this year is an after-party in the Eden Courtyard at Le Méridien Chambers.

6 p.m. for Gold Key, 8:30 p.m. for Silver Key, $100–$500, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 612-375-7600,

September 8

Children’s Theatre Company’s Curtain Call Ball

From a creative standpoint, this fundraiser’s a delight. The minds that put together CTC productions also help carry out the Alice-inspired wonderland this year, dubbed “White Rabbits and Black Ties.” While the CTC might not be the most obvious place for networking, the ball reliably draws a strong business contingency. “Corporations have been wonderful about ensuring their tables are filled with people who are there to support the organization,” says Karen Bohn, president of Galeo Group. “It’s a place to see and be seen, and connect and be connected.” In recent years, the Target-sponsored Backstage Bash has attracted young professionals with later-night desserts, drinks, and dancing.

5:30 p.m., $55–$350, Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, 612-872-5195,

3 More Opening Nights Not To Miss


  • September 14: Park Square Theatre presents the Tony Award–winning Mark Rothko bio RED.
  • September 15: Christopher Hampton’s Tales from Hollywood opens at the Guthrie.
  • September 22: The Minnesota Opera kicks off the season with its opening gala and Verdi’s Nabucco.

September 21

Children’s HeartLink Gala

Children’s HeartLink helps care for children with heart disease, and that focus is reflected in the gala guest list around the world. “There’s a heavy presence by medical device companies, hospitals, and things like that,” says Jan Conlin, chair of Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi’s Business Litigation Group. Ecolab is this year’s presenting sponsor (CEO Doug Baker and his wife are honorary chairs), and the long list of corporate sponsors includes Boston Scientific, Cargill, St. Jude Medical, United Healthcare, and Medtronic Foundation. WCCO sports anchor Mark Rosen hosts this year’s gala, which will spotlight Children’s HeartLink’s work in China.

6 p.m., $225, Hilton Minneapolis, 952-928-4860, ext. 10,

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