The 25th annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards luncheon was held over the noon hour today in the DECC’s beautiful Lake Superior Ballroom. Seventy-six Labo nominees were recognized, and a record crowd of more than 500 attended following an overnight ice storm. Here’s Steve Greenfield’s event story.
Outtakes from a phone interview earlier Tuesday afternoon with Mark Labovitz, son of legendary Duluth businessman Joel Labovitz:
Mark on Joel, 88: “Resilient optimism. He surrounded himself with business icons, the guy he built Maurices with, Dan Blehart, and, in particular, Monnie Goldfine. Monnie once told me that my dad needed great confidence to build the Maurices in such a rapid pace. There’s always reasons not to take a risk, I recall Monnie saying. As a young boy, growing up with my two younger sisters, I recall mom (Sharon) and dad talking around the dinner table about some of the challenges they faced in business, ranging from soft sales to how to get employees to work together. Recalling back today on those positive conversations, I’m struck by how unwavering dad’s commitment was to treat people fairly and get out of the employees’ way, to give his workers the responsibility, opportunity and freedom to do their tasks.”
Mark, on Maurices keeping its headquarters in Duluth: “Though we had nothing to do with that decision, we’re gratified because they made a choice that we wanted them to make. Like the community, we were just hoping that the company would choose not to uproot, when they could have gone to other places. To eventually stay in Duluth, to continue to employ several hundred talented people in Downtown Duluth, means a lot to our family — and, of course, to Duluth.”
Mark, on his view of Duluth: “The outdoors, welcoming the millennials, the confidence about the vibrant community that we always talk about has some traction. At the same time, Duluth has the fundamental challenge of providing the kind of jobs that enable people to raise a family and own their own home in the city. I don’t know if Duluth struggles more than any other city in the United States, in this regard. Duluth has some strong economic engines such as the Compudynes, Cirrus, the health-care providers, all the education. How does Duluth continue to grow the economic base.”
Mark, on the Labo Awards: “It’s always exciting to recognize all that’s going on in the region, entrepreneurially. Talk about resiliency: you hear the many stories and think, ‘Ya, that was improbable.’ I hear the success stories and sometimes ask myself, ‘How’d they do that?’ There’s a pathway to business success, and nearly always there’s an encouraging message of having pushed through the initial challenges. That’s the positive message of the Labo Awards.”
Mark, on the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth: “A very innovative culture there, in Joel’s spirit. It continues to attract top students, who do well in business.”
Joel and Sharon, 81, who will attend Wednesday’s luncheon, currently reside in San Diego, CA, where they are in good health.
. ReUSE Minnesota, in collaboration with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District will co-host a networking meeting for representatives from reuse, rental and repair businesses on May 25 at the Duluth Public Library’s Green Room.
. County State Aid Highway 101, spanning from Highway 53 east of Eveleth to County Road 62 west of Mountain Iron is scheduled to be resurfaced this summer, and when it’s complete, new signs will be posted alongside it proclaiming it as Representative Joe Begich Highway.
. The Duluth Transit Authority announced that all of its buses will be temporary detoured from the Duluth Transportation Center on Michigan Street to the former Superior Street bus stops at the Holiday Center and Transit Center East beginning Monday, May 1, due to Michigan Street construction. The detour will be in place for approximately 60 days, the DTA said in a press release.
. West Duluth Little League will hold Field Cleanup Day at John Baggs Memorial Fields behind historic Wade Stadium from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Additional volunteers are needed.
. The Fine Arts departments at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College are presenting a schedule of activities on campus to celebrate Fine Arts Week all this week. The events include music, theater, and literary performances and other art activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
. Duluthians Scott Behling and Anna Lahti won Fitger’s 5K Run and Walk races in Downtown Duluth on Saturday morning.
. From Tom Urbanski: The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Alpha Phi Upsilon Chapter, inducted 24 new members during an annual recognition ceremony Thursday at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
. James Hurley, director of Wisconsin Sea Grant, and Terry White, Second District supervisor of Douglas County, received outstanding achievement awards by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.
. From our friends at The College of St. Scholastica:
The College of St. Scholastica’s String Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles will welcome spring with a refreshing evening of music at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Mitchell Auditorium. Read more.
. The College of St. Scholastica’s choirs will close out the 2016-17 Spotlight season with a concert performance titled Equilibrium at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Mitchell Auditorium. Through their selection of music, St. Scholastica choirs will explore opposing relationships and how these relationships can ultimately create symmetry. Tickets are $5.
Federal judge Patrick Schiltz will deliver the commencement address to the spring 2017 graduates of The College of St. Scholastica, his alma mater. The ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, in Amsoil Arena at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Judge Schiltz was born and raised in Duluth. He graduated summa cum laude from The College of St. Scholastica and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After serving as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Schiltz practiced for six years as an associate and two years as a partner at Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis. Read more..
. The University of Wisconsin-Superior Music Department will present its Symphonic Band concert “The Best of New and Old: Great works of the past and a new look beyond” on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Thorpe Langley Auditorium located in Old Main. Read more.
. KUMD student marketing assistant Sam Quackenbush has been selected the 2017 Student Employee of the Year for the State of Minnesota by the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators. Read more.
. You don’t have to be a runner, volunteer or spectator in order to play a role in this year’s 41st Grandma’s Marathon. Public nominations are being accepted for the 2017 Rudy Perpich Public Service Award through Monday, May 1. Read more.