SPENCER, Iowa | The Iowa Lakes Corridor held its fourth annual Business Recognition on Nov. 20 at the Clay County Regional Events Center in Spencer.
In addition to showing appreciation for local business and industry, three business awards were given in the following categories: Small Business Excellence (30 employees or fewer), Large Business Excellence (more than 30 employees) and Entrepreneur of the Year. Nominations were sought by the corridor and then given to a judging committee composed of business and community leaders.
This year’s Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Doug and Amy Skinner of Dakota Pack and Iowa Protein Solutions in Estherville. Since 2002, the family-owned and operated producer of pork products has grown significantly from its original 13 employees to becoming a major employer in Emmet County. The Skinners' relationships with growers in the region allow them the ability to manage a full-service slaughter and fabrication facility, along with a stand-alone rendering and trucking company.
The Small Business Excellence was awarded to Okoboji Wines of Okoboji, headed by Mark, Shelia and Genie Reed. The winery's sales have from $90,000 in its first year in 1989 to more than $8.5 million in 2012. The business, which began as a labor of love, now employs a staff of 26.
The Large Business Excellence award was given to Polaris Industries of Spirit Lake. Sales, manufacturing, productivity, employment, customer satisfaction and technology are all experiencing upward trends throughout the company. Polaris recently expanded into two large vacated industrial properties in Milford with nearly 600,000 square feet of space.
Polaris' Victory and Indian Motorcycles, Rangers, Brutus and Global Electric Motorcars are all manufactured in the Great Lakes region.
The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development is the regional economic development agency for Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties.