Labovitz entrepreneurial awards discontinued after 25 years

Thousands of Northland entrepreneurs have been recognized through the Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Award program in the last 25 years. Photo: Tyler Schendel

Thousands of Northland entrepreneurs have been recognized through the Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Award program in the last 25 years. Photo: Tyler Schendel

After 25 years of recognizing Duluth area entrepreneurs for their accomplishments, UMD’s Center for Economic Development (CED) announced that the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Award program has been discontinued. This award program was started by Joel Labovitz, one of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs, in an effort to honor the Northland’s hardest working business people.

Elaine Hansen, director of UMD’s CED, said that the decision to discontinue the award program after more than two decades was an extremely difficult decision. According to Hansen, this award program was started because Joel Labovitz believed that the area’s budding entrepreneurs and business people should receive public recognition for their efforts to make their business ideas come to fruition.

“When the awards were started 25 years ago, there was no recognition for people in business,” Hansen said. “Joel brought that to a group of people and the whole group decided that we should have these awards.”

The Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards were the first of their kind 25 years ago, but in the decades since then, a number of other awards have developed to recognize emerging entrepreneurs. Douglas County, Hermantown and Cook County are just a few of the many chambers that now have recognition ceremonies to commemorate their area’s entrepreneurs.

LSBE award display cases holding twenty-five years of accomplishments. Photo: Tyler Schendel

LSBE award display cases holding twenty-five years of accomplishments. Photo: Tyler Schendel

Hansen said that the awards, which were given by the Center of Economic Development, highlighted entrepreneurs throughout the Northland for the work they have done and their impact on the regional economy.

“It’s made a tremendous difference to the entrepreneurs and it’s given UMD the opportunity to be part of the process,” Hansen said.

Hansen said that the amount of resources that it takes to put on a ceremony for these awards increased dramatically, while the amount of resources allocated to the CED did not increase. While 2018 will mark the first year without the Labovitz awards since 1993, the CED is exploring alternatives to continue celebrating the impact that entrepreneurial students have on the region.

“One of the things would be to have another event to celebrate entrepreneurism,” Hansen said. “Maybe partnering with some other entities to bring in a speaker or to do some other type of event, we haven’t really decided on exactly what we’re going to do yet.”

Even though they are coming to an end, the Labovitz Awards provided thousands of entrepreneurs the opportunity to be recognized for their innovation during the award ceremonies, which took place each spring in front of hundreds of business people.

NewsTyler Schendel