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3M, A to Zinnia are Businesses of Year

Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney The 3M plant in New Ulm was selected as the Large Business of the Year in New Ulm for 2020 at the at the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Thursday. Members of the management team are pictured above, from left: Ted Banal, Plant Engineering Manager; Adam Nelson, Financial Analyst; Andrew Supina, Plant Manager; Matt Kunkel, Engineering Supervisor; Kent Stevens, Quality Superintendent, and Myron Seidl, Production Superintendent.

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated a successful 2019 and looked ahead to 2020 at the Chamber’s annual meeting and banquet Thursday at the New Ulm Conference Center at the Best Western Plus.

In a first for the Chamber, members voted before the banquet to select the 2020 Large Business and Small Business of the year for 2020. The winners of the vote were A to Zinnia Floral and Gifts in the Small Business category, and 3M in the Large Business category. The businesses will be honored at a special celebration that will be held later in the spring.

Heather Hammer, owner of A to Zinnia Floral and Gifts, has been an active member of the Chamber, serving as a director and on several committees, in addition to running a successful business on South Broadway, with another store in Sleepy Eye. She is this year’s Vice Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors, and is set to be chairman next year.

3M has been a mainstay of New Ulm industry since the early 1960s, and is one of New Ulm’s largest employers.

Outgoing Chamber Chair Jennie Neubauer of CliftonLarsonAllen spoke about the accomplishments in the past year, including a change in leadership in Chamber Staff when Michael Looft was hired as President and CEO, replacing Audra Shaneman, who left the chamber after leading it for several years to work with Greater Mankato Growth, then coming back to New Ulm as Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Director for the city.

Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney A to Zinnia Floral & Gifts, owned by Heather Hammer, was selected as the New Ulm Small Business of the Year for 2020 at the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Thursday. Pictured above are owners and family members. In front, from left are Gloria Schulze, Faith Wels, Olivia Hammer, Violet Hammer. In back are Ron Wels, Spencer Hammer, Heather Hammer, Lynn Hacker, Bethany Uhler, Ronnie Braulick and Olivia Owens.

Looft introduced himself to the chamber members and spoke at length about the priorities the Chamber will be pursuing in 2020.

A Mankato native, Looft attended Mankato West and Minnesota State University Mankato, graduating in 2007 and pursuing a career at Wal-Mart, where he had started working in college. He said he moved up in the company management, learned a great deal about retail business and working with people, but decided he wanted to work in helping communities, and he took the job at the New Ulm Chamber.

He said the priorities for the chamber this year are to Communicate, Collaborate and Celebrate.

The chamber will be stepping up its communications with members, through beefing up its Tuesday e-mail to members, introduce a Wednesday Window program to highlight what’s new in New Ulm and play up the successes people might not know about. Community communication will be a big part of the emphasis, bringing the many different priorities and points of view of the different members.

The Chamber will be working on collaboration with the formation of a NUACC Foundation, registering as a 501c3 organization and forming committees to work on different issues, especially workforce development.

Part of the collaboration will be a tiered membership dues system, allowing members to choose from six different levels of involvement and investment in the Chamber.

Celebrating the successes of the Chamber will be big part of the Chamber this year. Part of the celebration will be the hiring of a new executive assistant, who will help take over some of the administrative details, setting up more efficient time scheduling, and setting priorities within committees to help celebrate goals that are achieved.

Incoming Chamber Chair Brian Shropshire from Citizens Bank Minnesota said that 2020 promises to be a fun year for the chamber, and reminded members that the chamber is the members — it only exists because of them.

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