Excellence in Economic Development Awards

The awards recognize projects and professionals in the economic development industry who have gone above and beyond or faced significant challenges in the last year. Nominations open in the fall and winners are honored at the Winter Conference.

Previous Recipients  


Project of the Year

The Project of the Year Award recognizes a community, organization, or team of individuals who have worked to complete a project that has had a positive impact in the State of Minnesota in the past year. This project will demonstrate collaboration, creativity, and complexity. The project will have created or retained employment and capital investment.

2021 Projects of the Year
Le Sueur Main Street


Economic Developer of the Year

2021 Recipient
David Olson, City of Lakeville

The Economic Developer of the Year recognizes a true leader in the industry from the past year.  This person exemplifies excellence in economic development and leadership. This award is intended for a professional who utilizes best practices, collaborative thinking, creativity and a spirit of innovation.

Public Official of the Year

2021 Recipient
Representative Zack Stephenson

The Public Official of the Year award is given to an individual that has worked diligently to advocate for economic development tools, resources, or initiatives that have had a positive impact in Minnesota. Nominations reflect an elected or appointed official who is willing to stand boldly in developing and supporting robust economic development tools and resources. The public official can represent all levels including: community, county, state or federal legislature.



2021 Projects of the Year
Mousse Sparkling Winery | Jordan, MN


Emerging Professional of the Year

2021 Recipient
Karl Schuettler, Northspan

The Emerging Professional Award acknowledges outstanding achievement by an emerging leader in the economic development industry. This individual shows promising leadership skills and positively impacts their organization, community, and/or region through economic development. This person should have less than five years of experience in the industry.

Innovation Award

2021 Recipient
Tamara Lowney, Itasca Economic Development Corporation

The Innovation Award recognizes a creative solution to an economic development challenge,  awarded to a community, county, organization, or a collaborative team. It could include any or all of the following:

  • Programs or initiatives that focus on business attraction, talent attraction or retention, business retention and expansion, financing, entrepreneurship, technology or other economic development initiatives.
  • Successful partnerships that demonstrate the strength of working together as a collective whole.
  • Creativity, effective communication and impeccable execution of an economic development marketing initiative.