2018 Brainerd Lakes Chamber Celebration of Excellence Annual Dinner

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Name: 2018 Brainerd Lakes Chamber Celebration of Excellence Annual Dinner
Date: November 15, 2018
Time: 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM CST
Registration: Sorry, public registration for this event has been closed.
Event Description:
The Brainerd Lakes Chamber and Widseth Smith Nolting invite you to celebrate the Business Excellence Award, Business Legacy Award, new Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award Leadership Experience Class of 2018, and the big winner of the Destination Downtown Business Challenge.



The Blue Ox Business Academy's Leadership Experience Class of 2018 will be recognized. The Leadership Experience is a ten-month program (11 full days!) that develops and inspires emerging leaders through experiences that help them to better understand themselves and their connections to a thriving community.

Leadership Class of 2018:
Sara Ahlers (A.W. Research Laboratories), Jamie Bieser (Nor-Son), Kristi Blad (Nor-Son), Chris Boelter (Frandsen Bank and Trust), Drew Boland (Ameriprise Financial- Stroot, Schumer & Associates), Dianna Boyer (Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union), Amy Carlson (Thelen Heating and Roofing), Luke Christiansen (Crow Wing Power), Mike DeMuth (Deerwood Bank), Jenniver DeVries (Tri County Community Action Partnership), Darin Dirkes (Nor-Son), Colleen Dols (Brainerd Lakes Chamber), Eric Halbert (Baratto Brothers Construction), Jeff Hanson (Hy-Tec Construction), Gina Heyer (Crow Wing County), John Hoge (Access North Center for Independent Livin gof NE MN), Steve Isle (Thelen Heating and Roofing), Lauren Johnson (CTC), Wayne Knopf (Midwest Security & Fire), Vicki Kueker (Life Link III), Ryan Lapke (Pequot Tool & Manufacturing), Jill Leonard (Avantech), Rachael Lund (Days Inn & Suites), Ashley Martel (Widseth Smith Nolting), Reed Nelson (RiverWood Bank), Lars Ohlin (Deerwood Bank), Philip Olsen (Central Lakes College), Mike Owen (BlackRidgeBANK), Nate Reiley (Thelen Heating and Roofing), Sara Simon (Boyd Lodge), Krista Spizzo (Cuyuna Regional Medical Center), Brian Stenglein (Clow Stamping Company), Max Walter (CTC), Becky Wohl (LINDAR Corporation) and Glen Young (Pequot Tool & Manufacturing).


Every year the Brainerd Lakes Chamber recognizes an outstanding business for its entrepreneurial spirit and accomplishments. The Business Excellence Award shines the spotlight on one Brainerd Lakes Chamber member who has displayed our values in the following ways: Leadership, Innovation , Employee Investment and Community Service. Presented by Brainerd Dispatch, the 2018 Business Excellence Award will honor Cuyuna Range Medical Center! Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is a community-built facility that serves approximately 30,000 people in the beautiful Brainerd Lakes area. Their experienced physicians and staff bring a progressive, ?can-do? approach to rural healthcare, delivering a wide range high-quality services through one convenient continuum of care.

CRMC got it?s start in the 1950?s when the old Miner?s Hospital closed and 17 Cuyuna Range cities and townships joined together to build a new district hospital. The communities have worked together to keep high quality health care local for more than 50 years. Today, over 900 CRMC doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and support staff continue their mission to build a proactive, high-tech patient-centered medical community.


The Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce will present the Business Legacy Award to an individual or partnership who has achieved exceptional business success in his, her or their lifetime. We seek to recognize inspiring leadership that transcends business and leaves a legacy of community and economic vitality for generations to come. Present by RiverWood Bank, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber's 2018 Business Legacy Award will honor Paul and Lynn Hunt.
For three decades this dynamic duo has shared a passion for innovation; continuously seeking ways to do/make things better. 

Lynn and Paul Hunt have been nominated for their outstanding achievement in business development combined with an extraordinary commitment to community and philanthropy.  Accomplished entrepreneurs, they built a nationally recognized business, Hunt Technologies Inc. (HTI); starting in their basement with just two employees and growing to over 180 employees and then a successful/staged exit.  With new ventures, they have continued to make an investment of time, talent, and resources with their employees, the region, and many individuals who have received personal, educational, and economic support.  

?The most important asset we have is an insatiable curiosity about the world around us.  We crave knowledge and skills to help others.  If an idea is brought out, we want to understand it inside and out.  But most of all we want to ultimately help bring products and ideas to market that can improve the physical world for people.?


New in 2018! The Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce will recognize a small business that personifies the spirit of entrepreneurship, pride and success that forms the backbone of our local economy. Our first-ever Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award will honor a Brainerd Lakes Chamber business that employs up to 25 team members with the following attributes: leadership, innovation, employee investment and community service. Cub Foods in Brainerd and Baxter are proud to sponsor this award and present it to Jack Pine BreweryJust as the Jack Pine is one of the first trees to take root after a forest fire, Patrick and Sarah Sundberg?s brewery was the first to be established in the Brainerd Lakes Area since prohibition. 


Their small startup began in 2012 by making 100 gallons at a time on College Drive in Baxter. In the coming years, the brewery saw continued growth and eventually outgrew its original location. In the fall of 2016, they broke ground on a new location which opened the spring of 2017. The upgraded taproom and production space increased capacity on both fronts and included the addition of an in-house canning line. Their first year of production yielded 234 barrels of beer (1 barrel = 31 gallons). Their continued growth has expanded their market share range from Walker to Hutchinson and production to 2,000 barrels this year! An eagerness to grow, a passion to impress, and a solid focus on quality and variety distinguish Jack Pine Brewery as a leader in craft beer in the Brainerd Lakes Area.



Presentation of the Destination Downtown Business Challenge winner! Destination Downtown is a unique business competition to advance the economic revolution of Downtown Brainerd. With a Community prize package worth more than $50,000, the Business Challenge will provide an awesome advantage to entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand a business. And the winner is???

Our 2017 Destination Downtown Challenge winner was Purple Fern Bath Company!


LIGHTS! ($1,000 - Limited to 10/ ONLY 5 LEFT)
There are only 10 tables available, so act now!


  • Reserved table in the BLUE section (up front and near the stage; refer to the seating chart)
  • Dinner tickets for 8
  • Table located up front and near the stage
  • Funds help support our LakesPROUD regional campaign
CAMERA! ($750- Limited to 12)
  • Reserved table in the RED section (refer to the seating chart)
  • Dinner tickets for 8
ACTION! ($650)
  • Reserved table in the WHITE section (refer to the seating chart)
  • Dinner tickets for 8


 Support the LakesPROUD Movement
Help us keep it local!
  • $50 LakesPROUD Donation
  • $100 LakesPROUD Donation

5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
  • Social Hour (appetizers and cash bar)

6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

  • Celebration of Excellence Welcome -
  • Recognition of volunteers, committees, and retiring board members
  • Graduation of the Leadership Class of 2018
  • Plated Dinner
  • Business Excellence Award Presentation - Sponsored by Brainerd Dispatch
  • Business Legacy Award Presentation - Sponsored by Riverwood Bank
  • Lakes Proud Small Business Award Presentation - Sponsored by Cub Foods
  • Destination Downtown 2.0 Presentation and Winner Announced!


The Brainerd Lakes Chamber will present three awards at its seventh-annual Celebration of Excellence on November 15th - the traditional Business Excellence Award, which goes to an outstanding local business, the Business Legacy Award, which celebrates individual lifetime achievements as well as community and economic contributions and the New Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award which will recognize a small business that personifies the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Brainerd Lakes Area! 
For all three awards, a nomination/application process was announced in June 2018. After the deadline passed in mid-July, a ten-member volunteer selection committee independently scored and discussed each applicant before choosing the recipients.
Past recipients of the Business Excellence Award include:

  • Widseth Smith Nolting (2012)
  • Crosswoods Golf (2013)

  • Grand View Lodge (2014)

  • Ultra Paws LLC (2015)
  • Just for Kix (2016)
  • CTC (2017)

Past recipient of the Business Legacy Award:
  • Stewart C. Mills Jr. (2016)
  • Arnie Johnson (2017)
Destination Downtown Business Challenge:
  • The Purple Fern Bath Company
Event Media:
Event Sponsors:

Lakes Proud Small Business of the Year Award

Business Excellence Award

Business Legacy Award

Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake
Sports Centre

11000 Cragun's Drive
Brainerd, MN 56401

Date/Time Information:
Thursday, November 15, 2018
5:00 p.m. - Social
6:00 p.m. - Leadership Experience Class of 2018
6:30 p.m. - Plated dinner
7:00 p.m. - Celebration of Excellence program
Contact Information:
Sue Galligan 218-822-7119
Lights Table Sponsor: $1000
Camer Table Sponsor: $750
Action Table Sponsor: $650
Individul Dinner Tickets: $60
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