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Leadership Minnesota begins 19th year, starts statewide tour

Congratulations to these business leaders selected to participate in this year’s Leadership Minnesota class. Participants receive a distinctive look at the state’s changing economy and the issues that will shape its future. This exclusive economic tour of the state kicked off September 12-13 in Mankato. Special thanks to program sponsors Altria, Barr Engineering Co., Gardner Builders, Sugar Lake Lodge, Target, Thomson Reuters, Werner Electric Supply, WSB and Xcel Energy.

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2019-2020 Leadership Class
Chair: Bob Gardner, Gardner Builders
Scott Augustin, Thomson Reuters
Jen Augustson, HealthPartners Institute
Joe Buttweiler, CTC
Paula Canter, Collins Aerospace
Tony Csmarich, UPM Blandin Paper Company
Greg Frandsen, Frandsen Corporation
Jeff Frank, Hormel Foods Corporation
Sara Gaffin, Barr Engineering Company
Jennifer Gale, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
Josh Goutermont, ALLETE / Minnesota Power
Michael Green, Arkema, Inc.
Will Hale, Cargill
Anne Hansen, Performance Marketing Group
Brian Hanson, APEX
David Hecker, Gardner Builders
Derek Heinecke, Twin Metals Minnesota
Jen Higgins, Target Corporation
Scott Jones, Taylor Corporation
Jonathan Juris, Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate
Kirsten Kukowski, K2 & Co
Misty Ladner, UnitedHealthcare
Rich Lehman, Boulay, PLLP
Eric Levenhagen, Sun Country Airlines
Wes Lilja, Blow Molded Specialties, Inc. Midwest
Raj Mahajan, ProPoint Solutions, LLC
Holly Minne, L&M Radiator, Inc.
Andi Moffatt, WSB
Greg Parupsky, Murphy Logistics Solutions
Justin Pearson, BNSF Railway
Kelly Sam, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures
Ben Schlauderaff, RSM US LLP
Mark Schmitke, Digi-Key Electronics
Kathy Schoenrock, Graco Inc.
Jake Sedlacek, Xcel Energy
Liz Sheets, Tunheim
Jennifer Smith, Enbridge Energy
Justin Verke, Smart Care
Aleesha Webb, Village Bank
Pierre Willette, Goff Public


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Leadership Minnesota participants received a primer on the everyday work of the Minnesota Chamber to strengthen the state’s economy during their orientation September 12-13 at Mankato. And then they saw firsthand two examples of Minnesota entrepreneurship at its finest. Chamber President Doug Loon and Sean O’Neil with the Grow Minnesota! Partnership team dove into what drives the development and growth of the state’s economy and explored how Minnesota is projected to fare for the next decade. Laura Bordelon, senior vice president for advocacy, shared results of the 2019 Business Community Poll. Participants had the opportunity to tour Taylor Corporation, one of Minnesota’s largest privately held companies, and see how it interacts with hundreds of the most recognizable brands in the world. They also toured Cambria’s state-the-art manufacturing facility, learning the rich history of the Davis family companies and how their entrepreneurial instinct propelled them to becoming an industry leader. Special thanks to session sponsor State Farm. Click here for a photo gallery.

Timber, mining and energy were center stage during the group’s October 10-11 session in Grand Rapids. LaTisha Gietzen provided an update on PolyMet Mining and nonferrous mining operations in Minnesota. Kelsey Johnson of the Iron Mining Association underscored the importance of mining to the state’s economy. Then the group had an amazing tour of U.S. Steel Mining Solutions – Minnesota Ore Operations, including seeing firsthand a “blast.” Barr Engineering Co. represented a great example of the many companies that service the large industries of northern Minnesota. The group also went into the woods to view up close a logging operation followed by a tour of UPM-Blandin. They finished their day with an energy discussion and tour of Boswell Energy Center. Special thanks to sponsors Barr Engineering Co., Minnesota Power, PolyMet Mining and Xcel Energy. Click here for a photo gallery.