18th Annual Bemidji Chamber Awards of Excellence Honor Local Businesses 2023

At their annual Awards of Excellence, the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce has recognized businesses and individuals who support the community for the past 18 years. Tuesday marked another awards ceremony that recognized the excellence of not only five local businesses but also five local individuals.

At the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce’s 18th Annual Awards of Excellence, the phrase “And the winner is…” highlighted the efforts of local enterprises and businesses.

New Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Healthy Workplace, Community Impact, and Business of the Year were the five award categories. With these categories, both new and established enterprises were acknowledged for their contributions to the community.

The Bemidji Chamber of Commerce held its 18th Annual Awards of Excellence

Abby Randall, executive director of the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, stated when queried about the event, “It’s a true testament to the growth of our local business community and Bemidji itself.” It is about building relationships and assisting one another, because the more connected we are, the more successful we will all be.

“It’s not just about a profit-and-loss statement,” said Bemidji’s mayor and business owner Jorge Prince in a speech at the awards ceremony. “So much of it is about building community.”

Individuals also received recognition for their contributions to the Bemidji community, in addition to local businesses. Longtime Bemidji industrialist Rich Siegert received the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award this year. In recent years, Siegert has developed properties along Lake Bemidji’s South Shore, including the Hampton Inn and the Doubletree hotel.

Siegert remarked, “It’s nice.” “I am very appreciative. It’s a blessing to live in a community like Bemidji and engage in such activities.

Those in attendance at the ceremony stated that rural areas such as Bemidji are experiencing both positive and negative effects of the new business landscape as a result of the implementation of COVID.

“In our state, our businesses face extremely stringent restrictions and high taxes.” “Doing business in our state is becoming increasingly difficult,” said Randall. “However, that will not deter us. We are going to collaborate. We will discuss the state of our enterprise. And I anticipate that we will emerge stronger.”

It will develop. People will not disappear,” Siegert stated. “They will be doing something…This area has a very secure economy.”

Award winners this year also include:

  • New Business of the Year: Boardwalk Mini Golf & Snack Shack
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Mike Fogelson of Up North Sports
  • Healthy Workplace: Bank Forward – Insure Forward
  • Community Impact: Neighborhood Connections (previously known as Ridgeway Neighborhood Initiative)
  • Business of the Year: Choice Therapy

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