Mrs. Gerry’s is Large Business of the Year

Published 9:25 am Friday, November 12, 2010

Members of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce socialize just before dinner Thursday evening at America’s Best Value Inn. -- Tami Jensen/Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce

Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen Inc. took home the big prize Thursday at the annual Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Membership Celebration.

The locally owned maker of salads, mashed potatoes, salsa and other food products found in grocery stores across the Upper Midwest was named the Large Business of the Year.

Chamber Executive Director Randy Kehr said Mrs. Gerry’s won the prize for its continued support of the chamber and for its involvement in the Albert Lea community.

The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce this year began a new award for its annual banquet: Medium Business of the Year. That honor went to Security Bank Minnesota.

It won for many reasons, Kehr said, but notably for its great support for the Freeborn County Fair and being a long-term chamber member.

Anytime Fitness won Small Business of the Year. A newcomer to Albert Lea from a few years ago, it joined the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce right away, Kehr said, and has utilized member benefits — such as the E-Biz Weekly and chamber bucks — to a great degree.

Tribune readers can catch more in-depth stories about the three winning businesses in coming issues.

Winner of Ambassador of the Year was Connie Kaupa of the Shell Rock River Watershed District. Volunteer of the Year was Kim Nelson of The Children’s Center.

The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce awarded a lifetime membership to Vern Haas, who helped found the Chamber Ambassadors 40 years ago.

The banquet was the chamber’s 129th annual celebration for members. The theme was “Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future.”

The speaker was Jerry Drayer, who graduated as valedictorian of the Albert Lea High School class of 1960. He is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Louisiana State University and president and CEO of Southeastern Universities Research Association, a consortium of 60 universities in the South. SURA manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility for the Department of Energy. The nuclear physics research facility provides unique capabilities for a user community of about 1,600 researchers from 280 institutions worldwide.

Draayer and his wife, Lois Van Wyk, have raised three daughters.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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