BALSAM LAKE, Wis. -- The Polk County Economic Development Corporation proudly hosted the 2022 Polk County Awards Breakfast on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at BrowTine Restaurant and Event Center in Amery. The Polk County EDC Awards Breakfast recognizes the economic and community contributions of local businesses. Due to Covid, the awards presentation had not been held in the last two years.
Approximately 100 people attended the program including numerous representatives from various economic development organizations, the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, County Tourism, CESA 11, Northwood Technical College, and Momentum West.
Prior to the award presentations, Terry Hauer, Executive Director of the Polk County EDC, presented an overview of the organization, the initiatives it directs for greater economic impact, and highlighted the economic progress happening in Polk County. Although there are numerous new businesses and expansions currently underway, the Polk County EDC continues to engage and assist local employers with the workforce and housing shortage that is having a negative economic impact in Polk County and our regional economy.
Katie Feuerhelm, CESA 11 Academic and Career Planning Consultant, was the guest speaker. Katie provided an overview of the Youth Apprenticeship Program that facilitates youth employment opportunities with participating employer organizations. The program currently serves over 300 students across 200 workplaces that engage high school students in on-the-job learning experiences with the partnering employers. This supported employment experience benefits, students, schools, and employers. Plus, the program is a positive contributor for a more robust workforce that our local employers desperately need.
2022 AWARD WINNERS
Agricultural Excellence Award
Recognizing the impact of agriculture in Polk County and its importance to the local economy and job opportunities.
- Winner: Minglewood Dairy
The Minglewood Farm was initially settled by Oliver Solum and his family in 1894.The Solum family has been farming there for 128 years. The farm has seen significant growth over the years, starting with more draft horses than cows at one time. In 1979, the farm grew from 30 cows to 70. It was slowly growing when fire struck the barn in 1992 and most of the herd was lost. In 1993, a milking parlor and a 300 cow barn was constructed. In 1999, an expansion was completed to bring the herd to 600 milking cows. Seventeen years later in 2018 was the technology and production leap with eight robotic milkers and an additional 400 cows.
Minglewood also grows and harvests all their own crops on owned and rented land. They also started selling beef to local consumers in 2020 and perform custom chopping for a handful of farms in the area.
Today, farm is owned and operated today by the 4th and 5th generations, Kevin and Roxann Solum along with their son in law and daughter, Jacob and Kristin Quist. Currently, Minglewood Inc. employees 20 non-family full time employees.
Receiving the ‘Agricultural Excellence Award’ are the 4th, 5th, and 6th generation of family along with Terry Hauer Polk County EDC Executive Director (far left).
Public Service Award
Recognizing excellent business performance along with providing significant contributions toward the betterment of the community and others.
- Winner: Big Rock Creek
Big Rock Creek, located just north of St. Croix Falls on Hwy 87, offers nearly 1,000 acres of extraordinary panoramic view of gorgeous countryside where guests can enjoy the property for a family vacation or reunion, retreats, parties, weddings, corporate events, holiday festivals, and camping/glamping. Big Rock Creek is a historic venue for families and friends to come for good ole’ fashioned fun - not just to see but to experience and feel the beautiful unique environment.
Big Rock creek is also the home to Miracle at Big Rock. One of the largest Christmas season lighting displays in northcentral Wisconsin. This year will be Miracle at Big Rock’s 2nd year with an anticipated 60-80k people in attendance. Miracle at Big Rock features millions of lights and displays, exquisitely decorated spaces, indoor shopping area and food court, craft cocktails, a fire pit and warming spaces, sledding and games. Big Rock Creek is proud to me a member of the St. Croix Falls community and is a wonderful venue and tourism attraction for Polk County.
The Hansen Family along with Mayor of St. Croix Falls, Kirk Anderson (far right).
New Business of The Year
Recognizing a public or governmental entity that partners with private enterprise and generates significant benefits to Polk County.
- Winner: Balsam Lake Brewery and Market
The vision for Balsam Lake Brewery and Market started with the purchase of some land in downtown Balsam Lake in 2019. Mike Gondek and his wife Christina took their experience in both the beverage marketing industry and food industry and leveraged it in the design and build what is now the Balsam Lake Brewery. The 6,500 square foot facility includes a full 5-barrel (1 bbl = 13.77 gallons) brewing system with 4 fermenters and 5 brite tanks, a tap room and a full grocery store with fresh produce, meat and cheese, featuring offerings from local venders like Burnet Dairy, Wilkins Pizzas, Louie’s Finer Meats, Crystal Ball Farms, Daeffler's Meats to name a few along with all of the other staples in a grocery store.
Currently, they have 12 of their own craft beers and two craft seltzers on tap with new offerings coming out regularly. One of their core values is “community focus” to help the community in any way possible, by donating food to the food shelves, hold fundraisers for worthy causes or providing a meeting/working space for local groups.
(L-R) Vince Netherland, Polk County Administrator, Allie Metke, Brewery Manager, Christina and Mike Gondek, Brewery Owners, Blake Paulsen, Brewery Brewmaster.
Business of the Year
Recognizing excellence in business performance along with its contribution to Polk County and its citizens.
- Winner: Sweet Additions
Sweet Additions is an ingredient company that manufactures and markets natural and organic ingredients to food and beverage, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Although headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, they quickly point out that the growth of their company and its products would not have been possible without the dedicated and hardworking teams located both in Cameron and Dresser, Wisconsin.
Sweet Additions organic ingredients and organization’s determination has allowed them to grow into the most innovative, high-value sweetener supplier in the natural and organic industry.
The new facility in Dresser, WI (old F&A Dairy plant) is strategically placed just an hour away from Cameron and an hour outside of Minneapolis the provided the proximity that allows strong relationships with their customers and stay at the forefront of innovation within the industry. The Dresser facility reflects their commitment to the communities of Northwestern Wisconsin.
The team of Sweet Additions accept the Polk County EDC 2022 Business of the Year Award with Terry Hauer, PCEDC Director (far left).
Congratulations to all the award winners and to all businesses in Polk County.