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Minnesota’s 2018 Small Business Week Winners Announced

Twelve Celebrated for Business Success and Community Involvement
Release Date: 
Monday, April 2, 2018
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty, 612-370-2316

MINNEAPOLIS – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Minnesota District Office announced this year’s state winners that will be recognized during National Small Business Week. Held annually to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and small business supporters across the nation, Small Business Week will be celebrated from April 29 to May 5, 2018.

“With more than 500,000 small businesses in Minnesota, we are excited to take this time to celebrate the efforts of a few of the best and brightest,” said Nancy J. Libersky, district director, SBA’s Minnesota District Office. “In addition to all they do to help our economy and create jobs, our small businesses and business champions honored during SBA’s Small Business Week also go above and beyond to give back to their communities.” 

The winners below were chosen for their success in starting or helping small business in Minnesota and for their efforts to give back to the community. Each business also received SBA assistance, directly or from SBA’s resource partners, in the form of guaranteed loans, business training and consultation, and more.

Small Business Person of the Year

Brenda Nolby, Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory, Inc., Ham Lake

Encore Entrepreneur of the Year

Mark Johnson,  Artisan Restoration LLC, Kasota

Family-Owned Small Business of the Year

Bert Kissoondath, Randy’s Booth Company, Crystal

Minority Small Business Champion of the Year

Mary Lundeen, UMD Center for Economic Development, Duluth

Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year

Sergio Espinoza, E & H Piping, LLC, Hanley Falls

SBDC Excellence & Innovation Center of the Year

Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center, St. Cloud

Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year

Clint Kruger, Preferred Electric, Inc., Minneapolis

Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year

Dennis Welch, Frandsen Bank & Trust, Arden Hills

Women Owned Small Business of the Year

Karen Schaar, Roca Climbing and Fitness, Inc., Rochester

Women’s Business Center of Excellence of the Year

WomenVenture, Minneapolis

Women Small Business Champion of the Year

Marnie Ochs-Raleigh, Evolve Systems, St. Paul

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Katie Steller, Steller Hair Company, Minneapolis


The SBA, along with the SCORE Association and the Small Business Development Center, will honor the winners listed above at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 11, 2018, at the Doubletree by Hilton Park Place in Minneapolis, Minn.

Registration is open for the event until May 8, 2018 at

For more information on Small Business Week, please visit


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit