Entrepreneur of the Year
Each year, we invite our community partners, program trainers, consultants, staff and entrepreneurs to nominate business owners who are making a real difference in our communities.
All nominated businesses are considered for recognition in the following categories:
- Community Impact
- Business Growth
- Employment Impact
- Best Business Plan
- Overall Twin Cities Small Business of the Year
Overall Twin Cities Small Business of the Year
With the strong commitment and support that both Senator Paul and Sheila Wellstone gave to NDC and our entrepreneurs we present the Small Business of the Year award in their honor. The Senator Paul and Sheila WellstoneTwin Cities Small Business of the Year Award winner demonstrates both outstanding community impact and outstanding business growth.
The Senator Paul Wellstone and Sheila Wellstone 2012 Twin Cities Small Business of the Year is:
Molly Herrmann & Tracy Morgan
Midtown Global Market • 920 East Lake Street #107, Minneapolis, MN 55407 • www.kitcheninthemarket.com
Owned by Molly Herrmann and Tracy Morgan, Kitchen in the Market is a unique and innovative combination of a commercial kitchen, cooking school and retail shop. Located in the Midtown Global Market, in a formerly vacant corner of the market, KITM provides licensed commercial kitchen space for 23 caterers, food trucks and food manufacturers who collectively provide more than 60 jobs and generated an estimated $1 million in revenue in 2011.
The business also hosts a variety of cooking classes that not only teach but also entertain (a Karaoke cooking class is an example). One class, Cooking in the Market, brings participants on a tour of the market and educates them on fresh, local ingredients available in the Market and how to use them to prepare an amazing meal. Students of this class are each given Market Money to shop at other MGM businesses, which has provided a great boost and exposure for other businesses in the Midtown Global Market. Of the more than 1000 guests that attended KITM events in 2011, an estimated 65% had never been to the market; most become repeat customers.
As you can see, the business, since it opened in 2010, has had a huge impact on the Midtown Global Market, the surrounding Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods, and the local food community.
For their inspiring vision, which has created practical, affordable opportunity for local food entrepreneurs, while at the same time drawing hundreds of new customers into the global market and encouraging them to shop at the market’s other businesses …. all within the framework of a sustainable business model, Kitchen in the Market is this year’s winner of the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Small Business of the Year.
The 2012 Thomas McBurney Community Impact Award winner demonstrates community impact as a role model, leader, community gathering place, local employer, by filling a vacant storefront, or having an overall positive impact on the community it serves.
The 2012 Thomas McBurney Community Impact Awards go to:
Grooming House Barbershop
Daymn Johnson and Dedrick Young
Frogtown Square • 603 University Avenue, Saint Paul MN 55103 • www.groominghouse.net
Owners Daymn Johnson and Dedrick Young have a created a dynamic, highly visible barbershop in St. Paul, filling one of the original retail spaces in the Frogtown Square project at University Avenue and Dale Street. Grooming House has fast become a friendly, positive neighborhood gathering place, strikingly attractive in its interior, with original design and branding by the owners.
Grooming House provides employment opportunities for 9 contracted barbers, who gain not only experience, but also are mentored in running their own business so they can grow professionally. Daymn and Dedrick, along with the other barbers at Grooming House, make a concerted effort to ensure the atmosphere in the shop is positive, and are intentional about being role models for youth in the community.
Inspired by the support he received from NDC/U7 in opening his shop in Frogtown Square, Daymn Johnson has chosen to volunteer his time as a graphic designer over the past year with U7 to help other businesses on University Avenue survive the light rail construction. Daymn and Dedrick also put their time and hearts into fundraising efforts this past year when Grooming House barber, Keith Barnes, was struck by a drunk driver and badly injured while stopping, as a good Samaritan, to provide aid to a stranded motorist. Daymn and Dedrick have organized fundraising events and brought Keith’s story to the local media to ensure that Keith and his family will not be without the support they need during his recovery.
For their many positive contributions to the community, The Grooming House Barbershop, and owners Daymn Johnson and Dedrick Young are the winners of this year’s Award for Community Impact.
The Employment Impact award is given each year to an entrepreneur whose business demonstrates the most impressive impact in terms of providing quality jobs. The selection committee evaluates number of jobs provided, pay rate, benefits, efforts made to hire neighborhood residents and training.
This year’s winner of the Employment Impact Award is…
Initiative Construction, owned by Isaac Carpenter, is a drywall contractor that has fast become a rising star. Over the past two years, Initiative has leveraged a very successful performance on the Frogtown Square project into several new jobs across the metro. A careful and thoughtful entrepreneur, Mr. Carpenter operates a union shop that is dedicated to making union quality opportunities available to residents of the local community. On each of his past two jobs he has put an average of 20 people to work with a compensation package that, including benefits, amounts to more than $49/hour.
For his outstanding work, Isaac Carpenter and Initiative Construction are this year’s winner of the Employment Impact Award.
The 2012 Growth in Business Award winner demonstrates Business Revenue Growth since inception, added new services, product lines, expanded into new service areas and continues to grow. The winner receives $250.
The 2012 Growth in Business goes to:
Michael A. Goze & Anthony F. Goze
7100 Medicine Lake Rd • Minneapolis, 55427 • www.magmechanical.com
MAG Mechanical, an MBE and DBE certified HVAC contractor, started, in 2007, just as the economy began to crash. Undeterred, and determined to grow in a smart, sustainable manner, the company diligently persisted in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, when the company landed, and performed on, a contract with Target, Mag Mechanical began to take off. Between 2010 and 2011, Mag Mechanical added 20 accounts (including several other jobs with Target), saw revenue grow by over 400%, and demonstrated impressive profitability. 2012 is already on pace to be even better.
For its very impressive accomplishments and growth over the past year, this year’s winner of the Business Growth award is MAG Mechanical. We are very proud of them and are expecting big things from them in the future.
Bonita Martin was a champion for emerging entrepreneurs. She believed that when you give people a fair chance, they can, oftentimes, work miracles and accomplish great things. She also, however, was a strong believer in accountability. She told students in NDC’s classes over and over that capitalizing on opportunity requires hard work, careful planning, and deliberate follow through.
The NDC entrepreneur training class – which Bonita, as head of the training department , oversaw – stresses importance of planning for business success, and tonight, for the first time, in honor of Bonita Martin, NDC is recognizing excellence in business planning.
We are pleased to announce the recipient of the first annual Bonita Martin Award For Best Business Plan, given to the NDC student who prepared the best business plan in an NDC Class from the previous year.
The award goes to:
El Coco Loco Catering
El Coco Loco Catering has been serving the Twin Cities for more than 16 years, offering authentic Mexican cuisine for any occasion. Andrea Macias grew up in her family’s restaurant, and is now bringing a new level of creativity to the traditional dishes and strengthening the business’s focus on healthy, sustainable practices and products.
NDC is lucky to have a dedicated group of business journalists and small business experts who serve on our committee to select our winners- thank you for serving!
- Mary Bennett - UBS Financial Services Inc
- Beth Ewing - Upsize! Magazine
- Kathy Berke - Park Midway Bank
- Duchesne Drew - Star Tribune
- Miguel Ramos - Minnesota Twins
- Andrew Swammi - Western Bank
- Nathaniel Kaliq - NAACP
- Tom Gitaa - Mshale Newspaper
Other finalists for this year's Twin Cities Small Business of the year include:
Alek Roslik’s portfolio includes extensive work across a broad spectrum of the media and entertainment industries, including recording, production, and editing for music and video, as well as production and audio recording for film, television, comedy, corporate, commercial, and nonprofit clients. Over the past few years he has honed his skills as a location audio specialist, which helped grow his business by more than 1,000% since 2009, reaching a point of sustainability in 2010.
The Best Steak House
Mike Hatzistamoulos and Steve Hatzistamoulos
860 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55104
The Hatzistamoulos family has been bringing the best in dining and customer service experiences to St. Paul since opening their restaurant in 1986. Immigrating to Minnesota from Greece, the family wanted to stay close together. With the notion that ‘a happy meal always keeps a man happy’, regardless of circumstance, they decided to open a steak house. True to their reasoning, they have been keeping customers happy for more than 25 years, offering delicious, affordable meals and treating everyone who enters as family.
BG Food Market
995 University Avenue W, St. Paul, MN 55104
Nestled in the Sunrise Market in the heart of University Avenue, BG Food Market offers a wide variety of healthy food choices for the community. With fresh produce, culturally relevant food and drink, and a seating area for customers, BG Food Market brings needed goods and services to the community. Owner Ge Lee is a strong supporter of the community, giving back regularly by sponsoring Hmong New Year and other community events.
Global Translation and Interpreter
2400 Minnehaha Ave S. Suite 204 • Minneapolis, MN 55404
Global Translation and Interpreter offers a multitude of interpretation and translation services, including in-person interpretation, Skype-conference and telephone interpretation, full document translation with profession-specific translators, multi-lingual website translation, and more. Owner Robsan Itana established the business in 2006, focusing on the East African community in the Twin Cities, and now employs more than 75 contractors in more than 150 languages worldwide.
Metro Nursing Service, LLC & Metro Health Care Services, LLC
Abdi and Nasra Gonjobe
Abdi and Nasra Gonjobe, both medical professionals, own and manage two health care businesses in the Twin Cities. Metro Nursing Services provides short-term and long-term residential care to elderly clients with chronic and acute illnesses, specializing in ventilator-bound clients who need constant care. They offer a safe and welcoming environment for up to four clients. Recognizing their capacity for growth was limited by the nature of their business, Abdi and Nasra developed a second business, Metro Health Care Services, which offers culturally sensitive home health care to ventilator dependent clients in the comfort of their own home. They currently employ and provide ongoing training for 30 RNs and LPNs.
3614 E. Lake St. • Minneapolis MN 55406
Helen Miller sees the potential for beauty in things long neglected or tossed aside. In 2009 she moved her home-based upholstering business into a vacant storefront on East Lake Street, bringing new life to a forgotten corridor. She convinced the landlord that his rundown building had great potential, showed him mockups of the façade she’d made in Photoshop, got competitive bids from contractors, and handed him the Great Streets Grant application, ultimately convincing him that he should not only rent to her, but that he should believe in the building and neighborhood’s potential as she did. Two years later, her storefront and its twin next door have new windows, doors, awnings, paint, and a vibrant, positive business inside bringing customers in from the neighborhood and surrounding area. Helen’s eye for seeing the potential for beauty extends into her reupholstery business, where she transforms worn items into the functional art of home furnishings, and teaches others how to do the same.
Muddy Paws Cheesecake
7600 West 27th Street Suite B2, St. Louis Park, MN 55426 • www.muddypawscheesecake.com
Tami Cabrera has been bringing Chicago-style cheesecakes to the Twin Cities for more than ten years. Offering a variety of more than 222 flavors with gluten free, lactose free, sugar free and vegan options, Muddy Paws Cheesecake has survived a challenging economy and found a niche in the catering industry. Tami is dedicated to the community, volunteering her time and talents regularly for various organizations and events, including hosting an annual holiday toy and pet food drive that draws more than 800 guests.
Kiwana Cannon and Sherrie Jones
The idea for Sitters Circle was born out of the challenge both Kiwana and Sherrie faced in finding dependable babysitters. They began to research the market and found that others had faced similar challenges. The idea evolved into a thriving business, and Sitters Circle now connects families with a network of reliable, qualified, trustworthy sitters and nannies throughout the Twin Cities.
Velasquez Family Coffee
Cathy and Guillermo Velasquez
In the late 1990s, the Velasquez family coffee farm in Honduras was threatened by deflated coffee prices. Far removed from the farm here in Minnesota, Cathy and Guillermo thought of simply sending money to support their family, but soon realized they could bring sustainability to the farm by importing the coffee and selling it in Minnesota. The response was so positive that it turned into a thriving business. Cathy and Guillermo import the green coffee beans, which are shade grown on their family’s sustainable, eco-friendly farm, and roast them here in Minnesota, offering free monthly delivery to homes and offices. They create personal connections between the growers in Honduras and the coffee drinkers here in Minnesota by sharing stories in their monthly newsletter and offering eco-tourism opportunities to the family farm. The Velasquez family gives back regularly to the Twin Cities community, working with a number of schools, mission projects and nonprofit organizations to help them fundraise.
Congratulations to all finalists, and thank you for your outstanding contributions to the community!