Economic Development, Small Business Development Center Announce 2022 Award Winners, Williston

Williston, ND - Williston Economic Development (WED) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) held their annual awards banquet on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Old Armory, Williston. About 200 people attended the celebratory event.

The partnership between the two organizations goes back to 2015 when the City of Williston Center for Development opened its doors at 113 4th St. E. The city renovated the office located in Downtown Williston into a one-stop-shop for services provided by WED, SBDC, City of Williston Planning and Zoning, Building Safety, Convention and Visitor Bureau, and Tri-County Regional Development Council.

"The City of Williston recognized the importance of the relationship between the SBDC and WED and created office space within the Center for Development for the SBDC. The result has been a very successful partnership that has won awards and made both offices some of the highest volume offices in the state of North Dakota," explained WED Executive Director Shawn Wenko.

Each year, the offices of WED and SBDC select finalists for the categories. The nominees are voted on by members of the Williston STAR Fund Board of Directors, Williston City Commission, and the Western Region Economic Development Board of Directors.

The following were recognized by the SBDC and Williston State College (WSC). The awards were presented by Keith Olson, SBDC regional director and Dr. Bernell Hirning, WSC president.

• Woman Owned Business of the Year: Susie Elsbernd, Owner of Susie Q's Ice Cream Truck

• New Business of the Year: Busted Knuckle Brewery

• Existing Business of the Year: Everson-Coughlin Funeral Home & Cremation Services

• Lender of the Year: Taylor Grundstad, American State Bank and Trust Co

• Champion of the Year: Cherie Harms, Owner of Leonardite Products

Each of the recipients was allotted time to comment on the award. Elsbernd, who acquired Susie Q's Ice Cream Truck just two days before the COVID pandemic, emphasized the importance of having a strong support group when running a small business.

"I'm a registered nurse by trade, but for as long as I can recall I wanted to own an ice cream truck," she said, admitting she still had an encouraging note and miniature ice cream truck her mom gave her in 2005.

"The note said, 'Dream big kiddo! Be the best ice cream truck driver you can be!' Now if you don't have those cheerleaders in your life, you need to find some!" exclaimed Elsbernd.

Following the conclusion of the SBDC awards ceremony, Wenko presented the WED awards to the following winners:

• Regional Business of the Year: Great Plains Women's Health Center

• Community Partnership of the Year: TrainND Northwest - Drone Park

• Icon of the Year: Tofte Brothers Construction

• Ambassador of the Year: Chris Brostuen, Mountrail Williams Electric Cooperative

• Dedicated Service Award: In Memory of Jack Dyville, Entertainment Inc!

The 2022 Ambassador of the Year award went to Chris Brostuen, a longtime Mountrail Williams Electric Cooperative executive and former Williston City Commissioner. Brostuen said his passion for his career and community was guided by a remark he heard in late 1987 by American Politician Robert Bergland. Bergland was visiting with electric cooperative directors and employees about quality of life when a phrase resonated with Brostuen.

"After some real thoughtful discussion, he (Bergland) concluded his talk stating the simple phrase, 'We're good neighbors'," Brostuen explained. "That has phrase has stayed with me to this very day. When I look around the audience this evening, there are a lot of good neighbors out there. Going forward, I just encourage everybody to stay good neighbors, take care of your neighbors, whether they are next door, across the street across town or anywhere in the region. If we take good care of our neighbors, the city and region will continue to grow and prosper."

The entire awards ceremony is available via video on WED's Facebook page.

Follow Williston Economic Development on Facebook (@cityofwilliston), Instagram (@willistoneconomicdevelopment), and LinkedIn.

For more information, please visit, call 701-577-8110, or stop by 113 4th St. E., in downtown Williston.


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