Businesses, entrepreneurs recognized in Bemidji Awards of Excellence
Alongside several businesses, prominent Bemidji entrepreneur Rich Siegert was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce’s 18th annual Awards of Excellence.
BEMIDJI — With decades of business experience and a vision that has shaped Lake Bemidji’s south shore, Rich Siegert was recognized with the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday at the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce’s 18th annual Awards of Excellence.
The awards, which were held at the Hampton Inn and Suites, aim to recognize and celebrate local businesses and entrepreneurs that make Bemidji and the surrounding area great.
“We’re gathered here to celebrate the resilience and tenacity of our local business community,” said Abby Randall, executive director of the chamber. “We have some truly talented individuals in Bemidji.”
Alongside the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award, businesses, organizations and individuals were recognized in several categories.
Boardwalk Mini Golf and Snack Shack won New Business of the Year for its impressive start and ability to transport guests to an East Coast experience without leaving the shores of Lake Bemidji.
Mike Fogelson of Up North Sports was recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year for the recent expansion of his business and for fostering a positive work culture for his employees.
Bank Forward - Insure Forward received the Healthy Workplace Award for its work to promote employee health and create a supportive work environment.
Neighborhood Connections, formerly the Ridgeway Neighborhood Initiative, was recognized with the Community Impact Award for its involvement and dedication to building and supporting community ties in low-income neighborhoods in Bemidji.
Choice Therapy won Business of the Year for its continued success and commitment to employee and community health.
Each of these businesses and organizations has impacted the community in positive ways and made it through challenges, something recognized by Mayor Jorge Prince in his statements during the award ceremony.
“So much of (success in business) is in building community,” Prince shared. “They’re the ones that provide volunteer hours to nonprofits, the ones who train our young leaders. This is a giving community, a community with a lot of generosity.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
As always, the highlight of the event was the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award, which celebrates individuals who have had a lasting impact on local business and the community. This year’s award went to Siegert, the owner of Hampton Inn and Suites and DoubleTree hotel.
A 1967 graduate of Bemidji State University, Siegert has owned and operated a number of businesses in the area throughout the years and was instrumental in developing the lake’s south shore.
In 2004 he closed the Edgewater Inn, which he had owned and operated for several decades, to construct the Hampton Inn and Suites, and added DoubleTree in 2013. Siegert has also been involved in giving back to the community through his involvement in several organizations and boards.
He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005 by the Bemidji Area Chamber and given the Bemidji State University Alumni Service Award in 2015.
With this most recent award, Siegert shared his thoughts on his success and what this recognition means to him.
“This is a wonderful thing. It’s almost like I’m important now,” Siegert said with a laugh.
Siegert attributed the community, saying that Bemidji has a unique aptitude for promotion and events.
“Bemidji is pretty outgoing and they promote a lot,” Siegert said. “There’s always something going on, events and activities.”
Alongside the opportunities he found in Bemidji, Siegert believes that much of his success has come from determination.
“It’s a matter of determination. If you really want to get something done, you get busy and do it," Siegert shared. "If you want to be successful, there’s no time like the present to get started.”