Charles Seashore, SCORE Counselor, has been named the Minnesota Minority Small Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Minority Business Champion is selected annually to honor individuals who have fulfilled a commitment to support minority entrepreneurship.
Chuck Seashore is currently a member of Minneapolis SCORE Chapter #2. Prior to joining SCORE, he spent 40 years with Honeywell, Inc. and Alliant Techsystems. He served in a number of research, engineering and program management positions within the corporation.
Since joining SCORE in 1999, Seashore has served as Vice Chair, Chapter Chair and organized the chapter’s 40th anniversary celebration as the oldest SCORE Chapter in the country. SCORE was started in Minneapolis by a group of corporate executives in 1964.
Seashore has led the “Going into Business Seminar” for the last six years and extended its presentation base to include five metro library locations and two African American and immigrant centers in the Minneapolis area. He remains active in counseling/mentoring of clients on a weekly basis with emphasis on minority small business entrepreneurs.
Seashore’s volunteer efforts have focused on minority client outreach and partnering to bring business expertise and knowledge to those in the minority communities. These efforts have included establishing minority counseling sites, client training and mentoring. In the early stages of the Minneapolis SCORE’s outreach program, Seashore met with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback and Don Samuels, city councilmember, to familiarize them with SCORE’s expertise in serving clients in the existing business community and for emerging entrepreneurs. These efforts have supported the city’s efforts to promote and expand jobs.
Two years ago, Seashore was instrumental in finalizing a Memo of Understanding with Kari Plowman, then Executive Director of the Native American Indian Chamber of Commerce. This effort resulted in business counseling being available one day per month in the Native American community. Similar efforts have resulted in business counseling being available one day per month at Urban Ventures in Minneapolis.
Seashore’s outreach efforts are not limited to counseling, holding seminars and meeting with city, library and minority organization leaders. He also participates in SCORE’s speakers bureau with is responsible for explaining SCORE’s capabilities and resource to various organizations.
For example, a couple times per year he speaks about small business opportunities at Roosevelt High School. He is a willing participant at trade shows and exhibits where he distributes literature and explains SCORE’s program of free business counseling and mentoring to potential clients. At these events he is very active in recruiting new SCORE members, particularly new minority and female SCORE volunteers.
Defense Alliance of Minnesota has been named the Minnesota Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Defense Alliance is staffed by Paul J. Wagner, Founder; Commander Chip Laingen, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Director; Kathryn A. Neumann, Veterans Liaison; and Patria Lawton, Facilitator.
The Veterans Small Business Champion Award is presented annually in each state to individuals who have fulfilled a commitment to advancing small business opportunities for veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
The Defense Alliance of Minnesota is an independent organization founded in 2004. The mission of the Alliance is to network and expand Minnesota’s defense and homeland security industries, to create and retain high quality jobs, and to further promote the state’s important contributions of our men and women of the armed forces.
Integral to that effort is totally free support for:
- Veteran-owned business coaching and education on government contracting
- Job placement and search for Veterans
- Direct support to agencies and organizations dedicated to Veteran business and social services.
- Local and national advocacy for Veteran business and social services.
The Defense Alliance is an independent organization entirely funded by Minnesota Wire & Cable Co., and through fees at quarterly events. There are no membership fees for individual or corporate membership. The Alliance staff includes full and part time employees of Minnesota Wire & Cable Co., and volunteer “Facilitators” from outside the company. It is not a profit-making venture; as such, any excess revenues gained from events are used for service member support causes.
Within the two years of its existence, the Defense Alliance has grown to include over 200 registered small, medium and large businesses including dozens of small Veteran-owned businesses, state agencies and nonprofit organizations (including all of the state’s prime defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Alliant Techsystems and BAE Systems), and a wealth of high-tech, low-tech, manufacturing, academic and service members. The Defense Alliance has an additional affiliated 175-plus businesses and organizations and 2,000-plus individual members.
The operations of the Defense Alliance include quarterly membership events, such as a Veterans Business Resources Seminar to bring awareness to the many local and national resources available for Veterans in business, or who are planning to start one. They also produce a periodic electronic “Industry Brief” that includes new member highlights, industry trends, event notifications and defense and homeland security contracting awareness and education.
The Defense Alliance of Minnesota takes enormous pride in its overall mission of networking the state’s defense and homeland security industries – but most especially in its passionate efforts to support our nation’s Veterans, the businesses they run, and the non-Veteran businesses who employ them.
Tom Grones, CEO and President, and Dan Rudningen, Vice President of Sales, of GeoComm, Inc. based in St. Cloud, Minn., have been named the Minnesota Small Business Persons of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Person of the year is selected annually based on growth in sales or unit volume, increase in the number of employees, financial strength, innovativeness of product or service and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects.
Grones and Rudningen were nominated by Gail Ivers of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.
GeoComm is a business that saves lives. Although that is a simplistic description of a highly complex and technologically advanced company, at its foundation, GeoComm exists to save lives. They do it by helping public safety agencies locate people during a crisis through the use of technology and communication systems developed by GeoComm.
Grones and Rudningen started their technology firm in 1995 doing mapping for counties as they converted from rural routes to 9-1-1 compatible addresses. The original 7-member firm combined Rudningen’s expertise in mapping – Geo – with Grones’ knowledge of implementing 9-1-1 emergency communications systems – Comm.
GeoComm started by serving counties in Central Minnesota. Today they have customers in 585 counties in 38 states, serving 878 9-1-1- centers. They are adding clients on the average of 78 counties per year.
GeoComm has three divisions: communication, geographic information systems (GIS) and software development. Through the use of their software, they merge voice and data communications with GIS mapping. Every wired phone has a physical address for billing purposes. The 9-1-1 system was designed so that when someone dialed 9-1-1, text would appear on a screen in the emergency response center showing the name, address, and phone number of the caller, along with the police, fire and ambulance numbers that served that particular address. GeoComm’s technology takes the process to the next level by presenting the information graphically: mapping the location of the caller, not just providing the address.
In addition, the company has developed automatic vehicle location software that uses GPS technology to display “real-time” vehicle locations and status so emergency services dispatchers can locate all emergency vehicles at a glance, helping speed response time during a crisis. Response time in a crisis can mean the difference between life and death.
In the last year, GeoComm released emergency notification software that uses GIS, what Grones and Rudningen call “Reverse 9-1-1.” The system allows emergency services personnel to send a taped message via wireline or wireless communication to everyone in a specific geographic area selected by the originator of the message. The interest in such software has escalated in response to concerns over terrorism. Even though emergency notification has been around for awhile, GeoComm was the first to combine it with GIS.
The company also released a website GIS system that uses accurate GIS data developed for a given jurisdiction, making it available to multiple users involved in the day-to-day operation of an emergency environment. The system can be configured for use by multiple departments within a jurisdiction, allowing online collaboration and secure access to everything from emergency services zones, to evacuation routes, to chemical and biological plume modeling.
Such software services and web-based products are the future of the company, which already provide digital map maintenance and digital map hosting.
Along with business growth, has come growth in high paying jobs and new revenue entering Central Minnesota. Providing well-paying jobs is just one example of Grones’ and Rudningen’s commitment to their employees. They also believe employee development is critical, both technical development and professional, or career, development. The company has a staff trainer who provides programs ranging from public speaking and communications to financial management. Each employee is required to complete eight to ten hour per month of professional development, amounting to about 100 hours per year per employee.
Since 1995, GeoComm has expended a significant percent of its pre-tax net profits on gifts to charitable organizations, many within the public safety community. The company belongs to a number of organizations and supports volunteer involvement from its employees in a variety of not-for-profit groups.
An innovative business that helps save lives, a community resource that provides well-paying jobs and new revenue to the region, and a generosity of spirit for both employees and the community are the reasons Tom Grones and Dan Rudningen were selected as SBA’s 2007 Small Business Persons of the Year.
Grones and Rudningen will be honored at a luncheon ceremony highlighting Small Business Week winners on Friday, May 11, 2007, at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park.