NEOY 2011

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:

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. This award is sponsored by Wells Fargo.

The Senator Paul Wellstone and Sheila Wellstone 2011 Twin Cities Small Business of the Year is:

The Clearance Rack

Haiyen and Neeson Vang

The Clearance Rack opened their first store in 2004, bringing to the community an invaluable asset: affordable fashion for women. They offer trendy clothing, shoes, and accessories, with the selection updated weekly, at $10 per item or less. Six years after opening their doors, The Clearance Rack has become an anchor business in the community. In April 2010 they opened a third location in Brooklyn Park, contributing to a 67% revenue increase in 2010 and creating six new jobs.  

804 East Lake Street 
Minneapolis, MN 55407612.532.4339

 The Clearance Rack


Community Impact Award

The 2011 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 winner receives $250. This award is sponsored by Xcel Energy. This year we had several outstanding nominees for this award and so have awarded the honor to two businesses. The 2011 Thomas McBurney Community Impact Awards go to:

 All Washed Up

All Washed Up

Shantae Holmes 

All Washed Up is a new laundromat in North Minneapolis powered by entrepreneur Shantae Holmes, filled with brand new, energy efficient equipment. Having faced and overcome many obstacles in her life, Shantae brings to the community a shining example of perseverance, commitment, and motivation. She has taken an abandoned location on Penn Avenue and has revitalized it into a clean and inviting business and gathering place for the North Side community.


3008 Penn Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411


Local D'Lish

Ann and Yulin Yin

Local D'Lish is a small grocery store in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, specializing in locally grown products. The Yins wanted to bring the farmer's market atmosphere they knew and loved from China to their community in North Minneapolis - focusing on building close relationships with customers, offering fresh food in small quantities from local farmers, and creating a vibrant gathering place for the community.

208 N 1st Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401
 Local D'Lish


Business Growth Award

The 2011 Business Growth 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. This award is sponsored by US Bank. The 2011 Business Achievement Award goes to:

 Joyous Care

Joyous Care & Family Preservation Services

Elizabeth Mafe

Elizabeth Mafe started Joyous Care & Family Preservation Services in 2001. Joyous care provides support services to individuals to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle. The in-home family support services include respite care, personal care, home health aides, homemaker services, chore and companion services. The goal of Joyous Care is to provide optimal care for all individuals irrespective of their cultural background.

822 South 3rd Street #1B 
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443


Creativity in Business Award

The 2011 Creativity in Business Award winner demonstrates Business Creativity in their product line, marketing strategies and overall business concept. The winner receives $250. This award is sponsored by The Minnesota Twins. The 2011 Creativity in Business Award goes to:


Conniemarie Hanson

EZKEEPER was born out of necessity; owner Connie Hanson suffered from asthma and was searching for a product that would hold her inhaler. With no products readily available on the market, her entrepreneurial spirit took over and she created her own product line. EZKEEPER applied for and received U.S. Patents. EZKEEPER offers five styles of inhaler holders and two styles of spacer holders. EZKEEPER products can also be custom ordered to client’s specifications.

1769 Lexington Avenue #189 
Roseville, MN 55113


Business Turn Around Award

This year we have a special award to honor a business that has made significant strides in business management and overall business performance during this difficult economy. The winner receives $250. This award is sponsored by Mayer Contracting. The 2011 Business Turn Around Award goes to:

 1st Choice Cleanin

1st Choice Cleaning Company, LLC

Harry Fulford

Owner Harry Fulford has been operating 1st Choice Cleaning Company since 2003. 1st Choice Cleaning Company provides top quality, affordable cleaning services to residential and commercial clients in the Twin Cities metro area. Harry uses environmentally friendly cleaning products and recycles all waste materials. 1st Choice offers part-time employment opportunities for local youth through various community programs.

930 Marshall Avenue 
Saint Paul, MN 55103


Best Business Plan Award

The Best Business Plan Award was created to honor an emerging entrepreneur who has recently completed an outstanding business plan. The winner receives $250. This award is sponsored by African Economic Development Solutions. The 2011 Best Business Plan Award goes to:

Majestic Touch Massage and Doula Services, LLC

Christine Ransom

Christine Ransom started Majestic Touch Massage and Doula Services as a home-based business in 2006. Majestic Touch offers massage in a variety of styles including: Traditional Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Myo-Facial, Pregnancy Massage and Doula Services. Christine has developed a corporate employee wellness program offering on-site chair massages to employees.

2100 Plymouth Avenue North #113
Minneapolis, MN 55411
 Majestic Touch

View all award finalists 

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 
  • Wes Bergstrom - Upsize! Magazine 
  • Kathy Berke - Park Midway Bank 
  • Duchesne Drew - Star Tribune 
  • Miguel Ramos - Minnesota Twins 
  • Andrew Swammi - Western Bank