VADNAIS HEIGHTS — Bringing people together is the ultimate goal of the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC). The private nonprofit, whose mission is to further economic development in Vadnais Heights and the northeast metro area, brought business leaders together at its annual awards dinner earlier this month.
More than 250 people, many of them local business leaders, attended the organization’s annual dinner and awards banquet at Jimmy’s Event Center in Vadnais Heights. The evening began with a silent auction and the sale of raffle tickets in the main lobby, then moved into the dining hall for the annual awards banquet and dinner.
VHEDC Executive Director Liz Moscatelli kicked off the evening with an introduction to the organization. She also recognized VHEDC’s board members, the North Metro Young Professionals and the annual dinner committee.
“A lot of hours go into an event like this. I compare it to planning a wedding,” she told the crowd before turning the microphone over to VHEDC President Eric Johannes. He recognized the businesses held by VHEDC to have made the biggest contributions to the community in the past year.
Keith Warner Standard of Excellence Award
Named in honor of a former director of the VHEDC, the Keith Warner Standard of Excellence Award is given to a business that has shown a singular degree of excellence in the areas of business success, philanthropy and community service. This year’s winner is Peoples Bank Midwest.
“I want to thank the corporation for this award. It’s very humbling and heartfelt. We’re very honored to be this year’s recipient,” said Bank President Kevin Whelan during his acceptance speech.
Bank staff members volunteer for two area Rotary groups, the White Bear Rotary Club and the Roseville Rotary Club. Vice President Richard McNamara has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Executive Vice President Kevin Kelly has co-chaired the Roseville Rotary’s Taste of Rosefest for several years.
In addition, the bank has been involved in the White Bear Lake Relay for Life event, serving as the top fundraising team for several years in a row. It has also been a longtime supporter of many local nonprofits including Northeast Youth & Family Services (NYFS) and Merrick Inc.
VHEDC Business Achievement Award
The VHEDC Business Achievement Award pays special tribute to outstanding companies that continue to thrive and support the local economy. This year’s winner is Buerkle Automotive Company.
“I’m very honored to receive the Business of the Year Award,” said Mary Buerkle, company owner and COO, as she accepted the award. “It’s a challenging time for businesses today. We’re asking more and more of our employees because it’s difficult to find and keep good employees, so thank you to our team at Buerkle Honda and Buerkle Hyundai for all that you do each and every day ... and thank you to VHEDC.”
Buerkle Automotive Company is an eight-time recipient of the Honda President’s Award, which is awarded based on a culmination of customer satisfaction surveys and sales figures. The company has also been recognized by Honda as being a leading environmental Green Dealer. Xcel Energy has recognized the dealership for having the largest energy savings for a mid-sized business.
VHEDC Community Partnership Award
The VHEDC Community Partnership award recognizes collaborative partners that help VHEDC to advance its mission of ensuring a prosperous local business economy in Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas. This year’s winner, Merrick Inc., provides meaningful work and quality life enrichment opportunities for 375 adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the northeastern Twin Cities.
“I want to thank VHEDC for this award recognizing Merrick’s involvement in the Vadnais Heights community. It affirms that something that has been done is worthy of recognition by peers you respect, which are the people in this room. Second, it reminds us that something done at the right time for the right reason is valued by our community,” said Merrick’s Executive Director, John Wayne Barker.
The banquet’s keynote speaker was Kim Insley, senior specialist at Digital River and former Twin Cities morning TV anchor. The focus of her talk was on disruption, and how to react when it happens.