Success Stories

2016 Small Business Person of the Year 
Janet Eining
Cellular Only Connection, Inc., Sioux Falls

Starting as a salesperson in a Cellular One store in 1995, Janet Eining moved up to store manager and became an authorized agent with her own business in 1997.  Her goal from day one has been “under-promise and over-deliver” and wants her customers to have the “smile and handshake” experience of dealing with people you trust.  Cellular Only Connection, Inc. now has 30 stores in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri with over 150 employees.  As president and majority owner, Janet is involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.  But this is not the only business venture that keeps her busy on a daily basis.
Ten years ago while visiting friends in Minneapolis, Janet discovered the Original Pancake House.  Bringing it to Sioux Falls was a challenge, but she and her partner did just that.  anet has since become the... Read More

2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Ben Hanten
Ben’s, Yankton

Ben Hanten, a native of Webster, is a third generation entrepreneur who started his first business at the age of 15 building and selling computers from his parent’s basement for customers from as far away as Japan.  Since that first successful venture, Ben has gone on to own several businesses.  He founded several media companies online as well as print magazines.  In 2005, with the assistance of an SBA 7(a) loan, he started Ben’s in Yankton, followed by a speakeasy known as The Copper Room.  
In 2012, Ben co-founded a venture capital firm called Two Bridges Capital which invests in technology, agriculture and manufacturing companies.  His active role in creating     networking opportunities and nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the   region has led to several new events, including a conference to connect... Read More

2016 Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year
Working Cowboy Saddlery, Dupree 
Una Lee Howe

Una Lee Howe, a tribal member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and her husband, Don Howe, are the owners of Working Cowboy Saddlery in Dupree since 1973.  Their saddlery business specializes in custom saddles and tack and Reata’s (rawhide ropes).  Una Lee is the silversmith artist for the saddle business and also custom designs saddles with their customer’s brands. 
She is also known for her specialty items - jewelry, leather purses, bags, belts, and other accessories - and is proud of her emphasis on using every bit of material without waste. 
Una Lee’s artistic background has provided her with several opportunities to give back to her community.  One such project was an photo montage of the past and present tribal history for the new IHS hospital in Eagle Butte.  Each photo was hand-picked, matted and hung by Una Lee.  ... Read More

 2016 Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year 
Midwest Marketing, Rapid City
Dawn Claymore

In 2005, Dawn Claymore pursued the dream of owning her own advertising agency and opened Midwest Marketing, LLC, a marketing and advertising agency serving South Dakota and the nation. Midwest Marketing has designed marketing pieces forSD CEO seminars, workshops and conferences.  Dawn has also been a speaker at several SD CEO events.
After graduating college with three degrees in marketing, Dawn joined Lee Enterprises in its Classified Sales department. She quickly advanced, working for three of its newspapers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. In 1998, Dawn became the in-house advertising agency for McKie Automotive in Rapid City. She worked through many acquisitions and at one point marketed 16 different franchises and businesses under the umbrella. When Dawn  started Midwest Marketing, McKie Automotive was so pleased with... Read More