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Annual Meeting 2024

The Waconia Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau Annual Meeting in January is a chance for membership to hear the State of the Chamber, celebrate the past year, and hear what’s to come. This year, awards were added to the event with the Ambassador of the Year and the return of the Business Excellence Awards. 

Ambassador of the Year

Gary Fritz, HomeTown Bank & Waconia Lions Club

The Waconia Chamber Ambassadors named Gary Fritz of HomeTown Bank the Ambassador of the Year. With an incredible 23-year commitment to the Ambassador program, Gary’s dedication shines through the positive impact he has made on the chamber and its member businesses. 

Gary has also been instrumental in fundraising for the annual 4th of July Lake Waconia Fireworks as a part of the Waconia Lions Club.

The Ambassador of the Year is nominated by the Waconia Chamber Ambassadors and based on overall commitment to the Chamber and the Ambassador program.

Business excellence Awards

The Business Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding individuals and businesses that demonstrated exceptional commitment, innovation, and service in the Waconia Community. These award categories replicate past chamber awards, originating in 1987 and running through 2003 before taking a hiatus. The Business Excellence Awards are nominated by the Waconia Chamber members and the community.

Community Service Impact Award

Angela Cruzen, Gather and Grow Food Shelf and Connection Center
Angela is a champion of the Waconia area; Demonstrating her community-minded spirit, Gather and Grow Food Shelf & Connection Center, in partnership with the City of Waconia, hosted the inaugural Waconia National Night Out last August.
Angela’s commitment extends beyond the event’s success. She works to eliminate the stigma associated with accessing the food shelf, and make it a gathering place for shoppers and donors alike. At the heart of Gather and Grow, she oversees a team of 130 volunteers who contribute their time and effort to support the food shelf and its initiatives.
The Community Service Impact honor is awarded for creating a significant and positive impact on the community through acts of social responsibility and community service.

Golden Apple Award

Paul Peterson, Sackett-Waconia
Paul is an integral part of the Waconia Chamber Business Education Network – Manufacturing and Trades committee, a collaborative group working closely with Waconia Public Schools to develop partnerships and build future workforce connections.
In his role as Director of Operations at Sackett-Waconia, Paul is not only a mentor for students in the classroom but also offers valuable opportunities to students eager to see manufacturing and engineering careers in action. In addition, he actively facilitates apprentice programs and employment post high school within the manufacturing and trades industry at Sackett-Waconia.
The Golden Apple is awarded for exceptional efforts in promoting and building business and educational partnerships.

Business of the Year

Bode Gray's: Jared DeWolf and Greg James
Jared and Greg joined forces to launch Bode Gray’s in early 2023, transforming the previously vacant space at 125 W 1st Street in Waconia into a thriving establishment.
Their innovative approach goes beyond renovation; it’s an homage to the rich history of Waconia. DeWolf and James have not just created a restaurant, they have woven a tapestry of Waconia’s past into the fabric of Bode Gray’s, making it a place where history and innovation coexist.
Business of the Year is awarded for leadership, innovation, and commitment to excellence in the business community.

Award winner videos

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Annual Meeting 2024 Photo Gallery

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