21st Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards

By KBJR News 1

April 24, 2013 Updated Apr 24, 2013 at 6:51 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Twin Ports are known for shipping industries, an art corridor, and thriving tourism...many local business owners take advantage of each of those community assets to succeed.

The 21st Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards were announced by the UMD Center for Economic Development Wednesday.

Breaking the mold and starting something new is not always easy.

For dozens of entrepreneurs in the Norrthland, many agree that they have conquered many challenges, but their perseverance has paid off.

The 21st annual Labo Awards Recipients were announced by the UMD Center for Economic Development.

The awards honor those business owners who are contributing to the economic growth of the Northland.

The ceremony took place at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and Labo awards were given in seven categories ranging from micro to established and mature business owners.

Owners of Art in the Alley won the award for emerging entrepreneurs.

"It's awesome because it's a local achievement. Being recognized by you peers is very humbling and just being focused on what you do and you do it every single day, then you take a day and you're rewarded like this. It just makes it all worth while," Tami LaPole-Edmunds, Co-owner of Duluth's Art in the Alley, said.

LaPole–Edmunds and her husband Dan Edmunds opened their art business five years ago.

The business owner says to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be able to adapt to the community's needs.

"You have to adapt. We are on our fourth store in four years. There has been no rest. It's all been changing and growing and listening to our customers and going after what's working," LaPole–Edmunds said.

The highly anticipated Lifetime Achievement award was also announced...and it went to the leaders of A&L Properties, who have helped change the face of Duluth.

"We've had the biggest impact on the real estate landscape of anyone in the last 100 years for sure—by a long shot. Also our operating companies are employing over 1,500 union construction workers, which are $45/hour jobs," Rob Link, Co-owner of A&L Properties, said.

Among the things A&L Properties can take credit for are the construction of the Tech Village, the Bridgeman Russell Building renovation and the restoration of Northland Country Club.

In another major honor Kjell Knudsen, the Dean of the Labovitz School of Business, was named business person of the year.

Knudsen is retiring as dean after the semester in May.

Our own Barbara Reyelts announced the nominees once again this year.

Justin Reis, NNC.
jreis@kbjr.com