April 23, 2020 (Inver Grove Heights, MN) – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce celebrated with the business community at its first-ever Virtual Small Business of the Year Award and Trade Show on Thursday, April 23.
“Our small businesses are a critical piece of our community, and as such, the River Heights Chamber felt like it was important to continue to celebrate business success during these challenging times and decided the show must go on,” noted Chairman of the Board, Adam Bengtson with Endorse Communications. The River Heights Chamber has held a traditional Salute to Small Business Award Luncheon and Trade Show for the past 31 years and found a creative way to highlight its members in a virtual trade show with business videos on the Chamber’s website and through a YouTube Playlist, as well as, have its keynote speaker (Scott Welle of Outperform the Norm) present, and award the 2020 Small Business of the Year recipient during a national pandemic. Check out the local businesses in the Virtual Trade Show at http://www.riverheights.com/virtualtradeshow.
Earlier this year, the Chamber accepted nominations from local community members who they felt rose above the crowd in how they conducted business. The River Heights Chamber’s Recognition Committee reviewed the applications and selected this year’s recipient, Mississippi Pub!
Joe and Melissa Harms, owners of Mississippi Pub in Inver Grove Heights, were honored with the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Small Business of the Year Award. Harms shared their philosophy and how they run Mississippi Pub as, “We want them (people), when they leave the Pub to be happy, be full, go tell their friends, bring them back, and just really enjoy their time that they spend at the Pub.” Mississippi Pub was started in 1999 by Joe’s father and sister – “there weren’t a lot of places on the river that you could boat up to, and have a beverage and some food, and take your family, so that was ultimately the driving force of why Mississippi Pub started,” Harms added, “plus it was a perfect location.” Joe started working as a bartender at the Pub on the first day it opened and now owns and operates the business from top to bottom. They have grown significantly over the years and did a remodel in 2016. Mississippi Pub is constantly expanding and growing, developing new food, ideas, drink menus, and continuing trying to adapt to the times.
The Small Business of the Year Award recognizes an organization that has been in business for five years or more, has 20 or fewer employees, has at least two years of membership in the River Heights Chamber, and encompasses a business that has a commitment to the community through its involvement and assistance to community organizations, to its employees, suppliers and customer relationships, in addition to, a commitment to excellence in service, business ethics, friendliness and business operations. Mississippi Pub outperforms in all of these areas, and they personally and professionally enjoy giving back to the community. Joe stated they donate to many organizations and benefits, sponsor events and volunteer their time through the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, as well as, he coaches youth athletics.
Joe and Melissa Harms, owners of Mississippi Pub and River Heights Marina added, “We appreciate being nominated for this award and we appreciate the support we get from the River Heights Chamber, it’s staff and all of its members. Thank you for moving forward with presenting us with this award.”
Congratulations to Mississippi Pub!
This event was supported by our generous sponsors, Town Square Television, Enbridge Energy, Minnesota Vikings Football, LLC, Microtel Inn & Suites By Wyndham and DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Downtown St. Paul.
Watch their award video here:
By Doug Loon, Minnesota Chamber and Jennifer Gale, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
Every employer and employee feels the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. Those of us in the network of state and local chambers, like the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, would like to thank employers and employees throughout Minnesota for navigating this crisis to mitigate the health impacts and keep our state moving forward. And if you are a business that is currently struggling or confused about the resources available to you, reach out to us. We can help- visit our business resources page at http://www.riverheights.com/covid19/.
Businesses are innovating and leveraging available resources.
Minnesota is blessed with a landscape of innovative companies and skilled workers. Employers and employees are continuing to find ways to work safely, keep essential operations open, meet customer demands and protect critical supply chains. Most impressive, companies are showing their ingenuity to transform operations almost overnight to supply products and services critical to bringing this pandemic under control.
Chambers of Commerce share the goal of ensuring a healthy business community and economy. The stakes are higher today, and our efforts are escalated as we fight this pandemic. We are working tirelessly for our members – listening to their needs and responding in their best interest.
Chambers are bringing businesses together.
Your local and state chambers work with businesses of every type, size and industry, and in every corner of the state. By listening to the needs of our members, we are able to make connections between challenges and solutions – during this crisis and long afterward. The River Heights Chamber has been sharing critical information to keep the business community abreast of the latest resources/tips/programs available to them, creating webinars and virtual events (like the Small Business Award Celebration on April 23 at 2:00 pm) to keep businesses informed and communicating with one another, as well as sharing the accomplishments and needs of its business members within the local community.
Chambers are advocating for employers and employees.
Minnesotans’ health and safety are paramount concerns for all of us. We share the goal of our elected officials to reduce the spread of the virus and simultaneously protect the long-term strength of the private-sector economy. It’s a delicate balance, and we have worked with legislators, and Governor Walz and his administration to make decisions with this balance in mind.
Chambers are speeding resources and assistance to keep communities thriving.
Every company is impacted by the state and federal directives related to COVID-19. Those deemed essential are doing what they can to keep shelves stocked and meet customer demands. If they were required to close their physical doors, many are continuing remotely or pivoting their operations. This was not their choice, but they are reviewing every funding option available to continue to make payroll, or act in good faith on behalf of their employees to keep their businesses open while mitigating health impacts.
The twists and turns of the pandemic are changing daily. Your chambers of commerce provide timely and trusted information to navigate this crisis. We know businesses are looking for funding and resources to mitigate this crisis. Your state and local chambers are here to help you navigate the various options and maximize the benefit for your business and employees. Our offices may be closed due to the “stay at home” order, but we are only a phone call or email away.
Businesses contribute to our shared quality of life in Minnesota. Generations-owned family companies and new entrepreneurial start-ups are equally important parts of our community’s and state’s story. The remarkable response of employers and employees everywhere is evidence that Minnesotans are well-prepared to weather this pandemic storm. Working together, we will position Minnesota to return to full productivity and full employment as soon as possible.
For more information, visit the River Heights Chamber of Commerce website at www.riverheights.com.
Dear River Heights Business Community,
We are all feeling the pain from this worldwide pandemic in different ways. The River Heights Chamber is here to assist your business in any way possible; we remain committed to supporting you during these challenging times.
Our small businesses are a critical piece of our community, and as such, the Chamber is moving forward to bring you the Small Business Award and Trade Show virtually, to honor and recognize our Small Business of the Year and the importance of small businesses in our community.
Our 2020 Virtual Small Business Award and Trade Show will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 2:00 pm via a Zoom Webinar and is FREE to attend. Chamber Chairman, Adam Bengtson, will facilitate the 2020 Small Business Award Celebration and Best Selling Author of Outperform the Norm, Scott Welle, will share strategies used by high achievers to take your game to the next level, especially during this unique time. And for the grand finale, be there LIVE for the announcement and to honor the 2020 Small Business of the Year and watch their video during this webinar! You don’t want to miss it!
The Trade Show component is a popular piece to this event. All members are invited to participate in the Trade Show which will remain online, viewable and shareable through the end of the year. For only $35, a business can share its logo, messaging and/or a video to the Virtual Trade Show. This is an opportunity to be creative and interact as if it were sharing your business at a LIVE trade show. For example, you can include a link to download and print a coupon to be used at a later date or bring in the coupon for a free giveaway. The sky is the limit!
This event is supported by our generous sponsors, Town Square Television, Enbridge Energy, Minnesota Vikings Football, LLC, Microtel Inn & Suites By Wyndham and DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Downtown St. Paul.
Register in advance for the 2020 Small Business Award Celebration here!
March 25, 2020
This afternoon, MN Governor Tim Walz issued an Executive Order directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home and limit movement outside of their homes beyond essential needs for two weeks.
Stay at Home Executive Order Effective Friday, March 27th from 11:59 pm to Friday, April 10th. #StayHomeMN
The closures of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations are extended to May 1st at 5 pm.
This Executive Order authorizes the Commissioner of Education to implement a Distant Learning period beginning on March 30th until May 4th.
Minnesotans may leave their home to perform essential duties and are asked to maintain social distancing.
Workers who provide critical services to the people of MN at this time are exempt. The exemptions are based on federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the US Department of Homeland Security with some Minnesota- specific additions. This includes but is not limited to jobs in:
– Healthcare and public health
– Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
– Child care
– Food and agriculture
– News media
– Water and wastewater
– Critical manufacturing
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce will continue to be a voice of reason, sharing factual information as it becomes available and we will work tirelessly to advocate for and support our local businesses and communities.
We will be funneling information down to you through our website and social media channels. The RHCC Members Only Facebook group, the River Heights Chamber Facebook page, our COVID-19 webpage that offers info from our partners, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, DEED and other useful resources. We are also updating our Facebook page with announcements and opportunities to support our businesses during these challenging times.
Adam Bengtson, 2020 Chairman, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber reached out to members to hear their challenges to growing jobs in Minnesota – here are what a couple of them said and more from Minnesota Chamber President, Doug Loon, on the Chamber Federation’s Legislative policies.
Mar 2, 2020
By Chamber President Doug Loon
Strike up a conversation with any business owner on the challenges to growing jobs in Minnesota, and the themes ring familiar.
High taxes hinder growth. Access to quality health care at an affordable price. The increasing number of government-mandates on employee benefits. Shortage of skilled workers.
Businesses of all types and sizes feel these stresses. Job-creators across the state hold their collective breath as the 2020 Legislature gets underway. Listen to those on the front lines as we seek ways to lessen these headwinds and create economic opportunity for all Minnesotans.
St. Cloud and River Heights are among the 40-plus members of the Minnesota Chamber Federation, which unites and amplifies the voice of local chambers by advocating for policies to grow business in every corner of the state. Together with the Minnesota Chamber, the Federation is launching its 2020 agenda as the Legislature gets underway.
Workplace regulations are center stage for St. Cloud businesses, says Teresa Bohnen, president of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce. Among their concerns is the broad wage theft law that, among other things, penalizes employers for unintentional payroll errors. “It seemed like the wage theft law sailed through last year without much consideration of the unintended consequences. Now we are requiring all businesses to absorb additional costs related to excessive paperwork and compliance to regulations that the vast majority of them were already following.”
The Federation will pursue modifications in the wage theft law.
We also continue to oppose “one size fits all” state mandates that limit employers’ ability to design competitive benefit packages for their employees. The patchwork of local mandates is cited in Inver Grove Heights. “Many small businesses don’t just work in one community,” says Brenda Dietrich, co-owner of Hardline Concrete & Masonry. “When cities make their own legislation, such as mandating wages and benefits, it is a hindrance to small businesses.”
Kari Rihm, president and chief executive of Rihm Family Companies, underscores the most widespread difficulty facing businesses: Finding workers. “Too few people are going into trades, and too many people are retiring from them.” she says. “It’s no secret. Businesses will be stymied if they can’t hire enough experienced, skilled workers.” The Federation continues to seek systemic reforms to raise all student achievement, ensuring every high school graduate is ready for postsecondary education or a career.
Local employer concerns resonate with Jennifer Gale, president of the River Heights Chamber. “We need to align our state’s legislative policies with our desire to keep Minnesota competitive,” she says. “Local chambers can work side by side with our legislators to connect them with business owners who know firsthand the everyday challenges.”
Conforming Minnesota law with the federal Section 179 tax code tops our tax agenda to allow immediate expensing equipment purchases. Rounding out our priorities are requiring a cost-benefit analysis as part of any proposal to add insurance mandates to state law and supporting environmental policies that drive private investment in Minnesota while helping employers reduce environmental impacts.
Federation partners have collectively advanced employer priorities for more than a decade; they represent 43 communities and 21,000-plus businesses.
If you want to be in the know – and lend your collective voice to help improve the lives of all Minnesotans – I encourage you to become a member of your local chamber or the Minnesota Chamber. Sign up for email updates throughout the legislative session to keep abreast of what is happening at the Capitol.
As one employer, your voice can be a whisper. Combine it with hundreds of others, and your voice becomes a roar.
Do you have a business idea? Have you wondered where to even start when considering to open your own business or expand to a new area? Look no further if you are considering Inver Grove Heights! Together, Progress Plus, the economic development foundation of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Inver Grove Heights made “A Guide to Opening or Expanding a Business… In the City of Inver Grove Heights” just for you!
The information presented in this guide book is provided for the convenience of the reader. While every effort has been made to ensure that all presented information is accurate at the time it is published, the City of Inver Grove Heights and the River Heights Chamber of Commerce cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information presented herein.
Celebrating 117 Years and Honoring Business of the Year, Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence, Rising Star & Employer of People with Disabilities Awards
Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 117th Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 9th at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront.
At this year’s meeting, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce awarded Heidi Satre of Neighbors Inc. the 2019 Rising Star award for her volunteerism with the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee and her many other contributions to the community. Vance Boelter of the Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board presented in partnership with his organization, the Employer of the Year for People with Disabilities Award, to Town Square Television for employing individuals with disabilities through Proact to clean their studios for over two decades.
Adam Bengtson, of Endorse Communications, was introduced as the 2020 Chairman of the Board and commented, “Those who know me well might describe me as a runaway optimist. But I believe that’s for good reason. The amazing advancements in the ways we live, conduct business and drive change are accelerating every day. In a matter of just two or three generations, the landscape of technology around us has completely transformed nearly every facet of our lives. I’m incredibly excited that the Chamber is leading the way in adopting this way of thinking.
Of course, these changes and improvements don’t happen in a vacuum. It takes ideas and energy from stakeholders from all around our community – that especially includes business and civic leaders in the River Heights Chamber of Commerce.”
Chairman Bengtson presented the River Heights Chamber 2020 Business of the Year to Drkula’s 32 of Inver Grove Heights, and later presented the 2019 Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence Award in memory of Carol Swenson to her family. To watch their individual award videos, check out the Chamber’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/riverheightschamber.
The audience also heard an inspiring keynote from Ian Leonard, Chief Meteorologist, FOX 9.
“What have you done for someone else today?” A question everyone can ask themselves, their staff, and their family – “live your passion with a purpose!”
Special thanks to the Annual Meeting event sponsors Waterous Company and Town Square Television, major sponsors CHS Inc, and Xcel Energy, and contributing sponsors Flint Hills Resources, Inver Grove Heights Convention & Visitors Bureau and Mahoney, Ulbrich, Christiansen and Russ, P.A.
As I think about 2020, I cannot help but think of vision. Vision of what is to come.
When the River Heights Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1903, I suspect the business leaders and visionaries of that era aimed to create an organization that could bring people together over shared interests, create opportunities for collaboration and solidify commitment to build a community that would withstand the strong headwinds that lay ahead. I’m also nearly certain that, while those ideals still hold true today, even these visionaries could not have predicted how quickly the world would continue to change around us.
I believe to my core that we are living in the most amazing time in history. On the whole, we are living longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives and are afforded opportunities to create extraordinary change. And although the technology we use each day has become so ubiquitous it seems nearly transparent; it would likely seem nothing short of magical to our predecessors of even 50 years ago.
Our world is changing at an unprecedented, accelerating pace. While this can be challenging, it is up to us as leaders in our community to remember the ideals over which our predecessors united so many years ago: connect with one another, collaborate to address shared interests, and reinforce our communities to thrive in the years ahead.
In 2020, the Chamber will continue to serve as a catalyst for this change. We will widen our circles of connection through membership and involvement and discover shared interests. We will be called to connect with the students who fill our classrooms and prepare them for the fast-paced world that awaits them. We will shape policies that will strengthen our local economy and our growing population. And we will deepen our connection to a global economy – seizing the nearly limitless opportunities it provides.
2020 will be a year of extraordinary opportunity to unite, collaborate and adapt to the change around us. No matter your role, no matter your passion, I invite you to find your place in the River Heights Chamber, be a catalyst for progress and prepare our communities for the amazing future that awaits.
Here’s to an incredible year – and the prosperity that it holds for us all.
Adam D. Bengtson
2020 Chairman, River Heights Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
President & CEO, Endorse Communications
Greetings fellow River Heights Business Community,
As I end my year as the 2019 Chairman of the Board for the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, I would like to share a few of the River Heights Chamber’s achievements within our business community over the past year.
2019 was all about connections. As I look back on the year, I am most proud of the connections we’ve made that align with our mission. Whether that be working with educators, interns or the TriDistrict programs, the cities of South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights, participating in grand-openings, groundbreaking ceremonies or tours to highlight our expansions in development, or the work we have done to connect the resources in the community to needs of the business owners in the community.
One of the goals set by our Board was to identify and assign actionable solutions related to the growing talent shortage. In 2019, the River Heights Chamber hosted an intern from St. Thomas University who worked on Chamber placemaking and directing our communication messaging to portray cities that are attractive to people wanting to come and live and work in the area.
We brought together schools and students to help draw in kids and educators to understand the future needs of our community workforce through the Business and Education Bus Tour.
The River Heights Chamber helped the TriDistrict create an Entrepreneur pathway and Trades pathway to compliment the already existing Transportation and Healthcare programs.
Our board and staff focused on tools to assist developers at City Hall through the development process. We worked with new and current developers to update development agreements and work through the process in both cities. A once stagnant development is building what will be a 3-phase industrial park in IGH. We continue to work on publishing, with the help of Progress Plus and both cities staff, an Opening or Expanding a Business Guide.
We continued to invite legislators to Local Issues to connect their state policies at the local level. There was weekly communication about the legislative activities sent out to members to keep them informed of policies being discussed about their industry to industries important to Minnesota’s economy.
We are on track to add 40 more businesses to the Chamber’s network – 75% of goal as of Oct. 2019.
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce exists to ensure that local leaders have a reason and a place to connect. Showing up and making the most of your Chamber membership is the key to success.
This year, it was my pleasure to celebrate all the things our members and community is doing to make the River Heights Chamber area such a great place to live, work and play. I look forward to connecting with you at a Chamber event soon!
2019 Chairman of the Board of Directors, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
Manager, Community Relations and Economic Development, Xcel Energy