Annual Meeting for the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce

Featured photo: Passing the gavel to new chair Caralee Nowak. Submitted.

The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce recently recognized members, community leaders and board directors during their virtual Annual Meeting last week.

Awards of Excellence, typically held in the spring but postponed this year due to COVID-19, were highlighted.

According to a release, Entrepreneur of the Year went to Sarah Hokuf of Evolve Creative, New Business of the Year went to the Bluebelle Event Venue, Wellness in the Workplace Award went to Beltrami Electric, Community Impact award went to Greater Bemidji, and Business of the Year went to Pinnacle Marketing Group.

Caralee Nowak of Pinnacle was named new Chamber Board Chair.

“We are excited to bring more people together, more opportunities to grow, and more value to our membership. Bemidji businesses are composed of great people, and our Board and staff are focused on providing the resources, platforms and opportunities for our business community to succeed. We are looking forward to continue serving and advocating for our membership in the coming year,” said Nowak.

Caralee Nowak. Submitted.

In addition, the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce Board named Kayla Winker, Sanford Health – Vice Chair, Jordan Anderson, Ultima Bank- Finance Director, Tracy Pogue, Kraus Anderson – At Large, Cindy Todavich, Todavich Electric – Treasurer for the 2020-2021 year.

Existing board of directors include Dana Lee of AmericInn, Dave Smith of MJB Home Center, Chad Harding of Hampton Inn/ DoubleTree by Hilton, John Svingen of Insure Forward, Corey Stittsworth of Counselor Realty and Kev Jackson of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

New board of directors include Bruce Bentfield of First National Bank of Bemidji, Brad Olson of Boy Scouts of America, Carissa Menefee of Bemidji State University, and Amanda Sande of Paul Bunyan Communications.

In addition to the Awards of Excellence, John W. Baer of Security Bank is this year’s recipient for the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award.

“John W. Baer is a fourth-generation civic leader and pillar in the Bemidji banking community. He began work at Security Bank USA in 1967, led the building of the bank’s auto facility in 1975 and became president just 4 years later in 1979. During his presidency, John moved the headquarters of the bank to Paul Bunyan Drive, making Security Bank USA one of the first buildings to develop on the west end of Bemidji. He served as president until 2014,” said the release.


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