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Polk County EDC Award Winners Recognized

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Polk County Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Awards Banquet was held Tuesday, May 15th, at Paradise Landing in Balsam Lake.  The banquet is held each year to recognize the economic and community contributions of local businesses.  This year, the EDC expanded its pool of recipients to include public or government entities that partner with private enterprise to generate significant benefits for Polk County residents.

With approximately 125 people in attendance, awards were presented by State Senator Patty Schachtner, along with representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy.  Recognition also came in written form from the offices of Assemblyman Adam Jarchow and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.  Senator Schachtner personally congratulated and thanked each of the award recipients for their success and for their commitment to help our local communities.

Prior to the award presentations, Vince Netherland, Executive Director of the Polk County EDC, highlighted the economic progress made in Polk County over the past year.  Specifically, he mentioned the relocation to our area of important companies such as Kage Innovation (Osceola) and Linemods (Balsam Lake).  In addition, he noted WITC’s planned establishment of a satellite campus in Balsam Lake, the recent expansion efforts of broadband internet service through rural parts of the county, the training and recruiting programs recently conducted, and an increase in tourism as examples illustrating that the county’s business environment is improving.


Agriculture Award: Recognizing the importance of agriculture in Polk County and its importance to the local economy and job opportunities.


Located in Luck, John Morley Maple Syrup has grown from 350 taps in their first year to over 8000 taps today.  In addition to pure maple syrup, their business features excellent maple-flavored products such as flavored bacon, sausage, and even cotton candy.  They also sell equipment needed to harvest syrup from trees and transform it to delicious maple syrup.

John and Crystal Morley have helped countless others enjoy the lifestyle and profits of the maple syrup industry through education and by selling syrup-making equipment to both amateurs and professionals.  In addition, John Morley organized the first-ever Northwest Wisconsin Maple Farm Tour in March of 2018, benefitting sugar houses and related businesses throughout Polk County and Northwest Wisconsin.


John Morley, of Morley Maple Syrup, receives recognition from State Senator Patty Schachtner.

Business-Service Award: Recognizing excellent business performance along with providing significant contributions toward the betterment of the community and others.

Winner: Dick’s Fresh Market in Osceola

Dick’s Fresh Market has been family-owned and operated for over 30 years.  In 2016, a 10,000sf expansion begun at their downtown Osceola location with the purpose of becoming a better store for customers and a solid anchor for the village.  The ‘Grand Reopening’ was in March 2017.  Doug Rinehart, president of Dick’s Fresh Market, was dedicated to staying downtown so as to provide a boost for local shoppers and businesses.  He also made sure that the expansion and remodel was carefully designed with consideration given to the history of Osceola and its historical district.

With the expansion came a Caribou Coffee which employed 16 new workers plus another 15 new employees were added to the staff of the grocery.  Dick’s Fresh Market provides quality products in a quality store….and provides many local residents with jobs.

Dick’s Fresh Market

State Senator Schachtner presenting Doug Rinehart, president of Dick’s Fresh Market, with the Business-Service Award.

Business of the Year: Recognizing excellence in business performance along with its contribution to Polk County and its citizens.

Winner: Kage Innovation

Founded in 2006 in Oak Park Heights, MN by Mike Stephan, Kage Innovation develops breakthrough equipment technology for snow removal operators and landscaping contractors.  Its products are recognized for their quality and unique features giving users significant benefits.

Kage Innovation operations were moved to Osceola, WI recently and a groundbreaking ceremony on a new 26,400 sf facility occurred in August of 2017.  Much of the facility was built and supplied by local businesses.  It currently provides 25 people with family-supporting jobs.  In addition, Kage Innovation has demonstrated a commitment to be an active member of the community by supporting local causes and businesses.

Mike Stephan, in his comments to the attendees, highlighted how the ‘American dream’ can still be achieved….and that it can be done in communities like the ones here in Polk County.

Kage Innovation

Mike Stephan, founder and president of Kage Innovation, receives Business of the Year recognition from the Polk County Economic Development Corporation.

Public Partnership Award (2 Given): Recognizing a public or government entity that partners with private enterprise and generates significant benefits to Polk County

Winner 1: Amery Public Schools

Amery Public Schools has shown a commitment to both the development of Amery High School students and the economic vitality of local businesses.  The high school is a leader in recruiting and placing high school students in the Youth Apprenticeship Program that helps train students in certain skills and jobs while they are still in high school.  This program also fills a need for many employers who are searching for good employees.

The school district was also recognized for setting the standard on how to incorporate the new Inspire Career Cruising program and associated technology in their curriculum.  This program prepares students for future careers and can connect them with local employers who can mentor them, answer questions, and even employ them someday.

High School Principal, Shawn Doerfler, and Business Education Teacher, Ramona Lockwood accepted the award and highlighted the school district’s commitment to both the students and the community.  Their goal is to help students achieve their goals… and it is great if they can achieve them in their home community.

Amery School District

Amery School District, winner of the Public Partnership Award, was represented by Ramona Lockwood and Shawn Doerfler.

Public Partnership Award

Winner 2: Polk County Government and Board of Supervisors

Polk County Government and its Board of Supervisors have exhibited exemplary leadership to improve the lifestyles and commerce of its citizens and businesses.  The Board of Supervisors has undertaken several actions that have facilitated progress in key areas of need.  Specific examples include:  Adopting a new ordinance and a resolution supporting efforts to expand broadband internet service throughout Polk County; working diligently with WITC to locate a satellite campus in Balsam Lake, WI starting in the Fall of 2018; and supporting workforce development by donating facilities and resources for both a ‘construction skills academy’ and a high school career day.

The Polk County Government also received special recognition from the Wisconsin State Broadband Office for its commitment and actions to support the expansion of broadband throughout our county.  State Broadband Director, Angie Dickison, traveled from Madison to personally deliver a certificate stating that Polk County is officially recognized as ‘Broadband Forward Certified.’  Polk County is now one of only a handful of Wisconsin counties that have received this distinction.

State Broadband Office

Angie Dickison, Director of the State Broadband Office, presents Polk County Acting Administrator Jeff Fuge with the official Broadband Forward Certification.

Congratulations to all of the award winners and to all businesses in Polk County.

The Polk County Economic Development Corporation is a public-private organization that was created to encourage and promote economic development and capital investment, create and retain quality jobs, enhance the tax base and facilitate positive sustainable growth throughout Polk County, Wisconsin.

Polk County Economic Development Corporation
100 Polk Plaza
Suite 226
Balsam Lake, WI  54810
(715) 405-3400

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