Business Notes - Nov. 15

CAREER Atomic Learning receives multiple education industry awards LITTLE FALLS - Little Falls-based Atomic Learning announced the education industry recently recognized the company through three separate awards: The company's K12 professional de...

Chad Schwendeman
Chad Schwendeman


Atomic Learning receives multiple education industry awards

LITTLE FALLS - Little Falls-based Atomic Learning announced the education industry recently recognized the company through three separate awards:

The company's K12 professional development solution, Atomic Integrate, received a Tech &

Learning Magazine Award of Excellence in the Best Upgraded Products category. The prestigious 33-year-old recognition program leverages a panel of more than 30 educators to test hundreds of entries and score them individually to select the winners.


The Atomic Integrate solution also received a Learning Magazine 2016 Teachers' Choice Award

for Professional Development. The Learning Magazine awards program has grown to become

one of the most recognized and prestigious awards in the educational market. In the 2016

award program, seven winners were chosen based on their scores from the evaluations done by a panel of teachers across the country.

Atomic Learning's Angela Maiers Collection was recently named an EDDIE Award winner by ComputED Gazette in the Professional Development Technology and Environment Website

category. The ComputED Gazette's Annual Education Software Review Awards target innovative and content-rich programs and websites that augment the classroom curriculum and improve teacher productivity, providing parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational.

"We have invested time in learning what our customers need to help them address the common

challenges found in education today and evolving our product to deliver that," said Lisa Barnett, CEO. "This award acknowledges that hard work and gives credit to the Atomic Learning team for making bold moves forward. If people think they know Atomic Learning, I hope they have checked us out in the last three months, because I think they will be surprised at how we've adapted to the market's needs."


Go to learn more about Atomic Learning visit. Interested in joining the AL family? Find career opportunities at

Schwendeman receives top national real estate honors

BAXTER - Chad Schwendeman recently received top national honors in real estate, including top sales volume and number of transactions in North America.

Selection was made from over 25,000 agents throughout the country.

Schwendeman, broker and owner of EXIT Lakes Realty Premier with offices in Baxter, Crosby and Pequot Lakes, was honored last month at the EXIT Realty Corp. International convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. EXIT Realty Founder and Chairman Steve Morris and CEO Tami Bonnell made the presentation.

On behalf of EXIT Lakes Realty Premier, Schwendeman also accepted awards for Office

of the Year; first in total units closed in 2015; first in total listings taken; Platinum Club - 100 plus closed transactions in 2015; 250 closed transactions in 2015; and 500 closed transactions accumulative.

EXIT Realty is based in Toronto, Canada, and has over 600 offices in North America and


over 25,000 active agents.

"It certainly was a surprise," Schwendeman said of the multiple awards. "I was both honored and humbled. There were more than 2,500 people in attendance; and to have that kind of recognition in a crowd of that size is pretty special. But I have to note that it's not just about me - from our agents to our support staff, there's a really great synergy in our office that allows us to do great things for our clients."

In addition to the awards received, Schwendeman was also selected as one of 12 agents to

present marketing techniques to attendees at the conference.

"What Chad has accomplished in such a small market is nothing short of amazing," said Tami Bonnell, CEO of EXIT Realty. "He is a example for all Exit Realty agents to inspire to become. We are so proud of his accomplishments and this prove he truly is one of the best Realtors in North America."



CRMC gains award


Cuyuna Regional Medical Center's HomeHealth Partnership recently received a prestigious award recognizing home health agencies that continuously provide quality care as measured from the patient's point of view.

HomeHealth Partnership was named a 2015 Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Honors recipient by Deyta Analytics, a division of HEALTHCAREfirst.

Deyta Analytics used assessment survey results from partnering home health agencies continued in its database with an evaluation period of April 2014 through March 2015. Deyta Analytics identified assessment honors recipients by evaluating performance on a set of 19 satisfaction indicator measures; omitting qualify, leader, and demographic questions. Honors recipients include those agencies scoring above the Deyta National Average on at least 85 percent, or 17, of the evaluated questions.

John Solheim, CRMC CEO, stated in a news release that the fact that the medical center's patients were so satisfied was a direct reflection on staff and the job they are doing.

HomeHealth Partnership is part of the Medical Campus in Crosby which includes a complete spectrum of services that value the individual, foster dignity, and help seniors stay as healthy and independent as possible.

Lakewood gains honor for innovation

STAPLES - The Bush Foundation today awarded the 2015 Bush Prize for Community Innovation to eight organizations with a track record of making great ideas happen.

The eight organizations were chosen for demonstrating a pattern of inclusive, collaborative and resourceful processes that result in innovative solutions to community challenges. These breakthrough solutions are more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches.


The 2015 Bush Prize winners included Lakewood Health System in Staples.

The other two Minnesota honorees are Hope Community, Minneapolis, and Minnesota Valley Action Council, Mankato.

"Innovation can be difficult to define in words, but the track record of these eight organizations paints a clear picture of the concept," said Bush President Jennifer Ford Reedy, in a news release. "They all think outside the box, and are open, resourceful and completely invested in finding solutions for the region."

Bush Prize winners receive a package that includes promotional support and materials, and an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of the organization's prior fiscal year budget, up to $500,000.

The Foundation received 110 applications for the 2015 Bush Prize. Panels of community members within each of the three states chose the winners from their respective state.

"The Bush Prize is an investment in the future of organizations that know how to think bigger and think differently," said Mandy Ellerton, Community Innovation director. "We want to take some daily pressure off these extraordinary organizations to give them the time and space to think creatively about their next steps and new challenges."

The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area. Go to for more information.

"Lakewood Health System harnesses its size and agility to inspire innovations that lead to a healthier, economically stronger region," the Bush Prize reported. "With an emphasis on investing in mission rather than financial gain, Lakewood Health System encourages all levels of staff to share ideas to improve the health and well-being of patients and the community."


Sterling studies with White House calligrapher

Sue Sterling, resident of Brainerd, was studied the 'hand' of copperplate, and the art of 'Line and Petal' on Oct. 17-19 at the Edina Art Center with Pat Blair, the head calligrapher at the U.S. White House.

These lessons were arranged by Colleagues of Calligraphy, a statewide group based in Minneapolis, made up of calligraphers and artists interested in the art of beautiful writing. The Colleagues were also instrumental in the conception of the famous St. John's Bible in conjunction with St. John's University in College Town, Minn.

Sterling has been a calligrapher since 1978 when she answered an ad in the local newspaper for calligraphy lessons in Santa Monica, Calif. Since that time she has taught herself many different hands and enjoys doing projects that combine her calligraphy with her photography, watercolor painting, and card-making. Sterling has taught calligraphy lessons through Brainerd School District and is currently hoping to teach small groups in her home. Sterling will be demonstrating her art at the Franklin Art Center's Holiday Craft's Show this weekend. Sue is currently the vice president of the Brainerd Art Club.

Lakewood Health receives state breastfeeding-friendly recognition

STAPLES - The Minnesota Department of Health named Lakewood Health System as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace for its contributions to the health of mothers and their babies.

The department recognizes workplaces and county health departments that have demonstrated their commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers by creating a workplace lactation support program.

Breastfeeding is a foundational way to ensure that babies receive optimal nutrition during the first formative years of life, the Minnesota Department of Health reported. Studies show that infants who are breastfed have better health outcomes as they grow. The department recognized organizations that have taken a leadership role to improve breastfeeding rates and meet healthy 2020 goals.

The designation acknowledges Lakewood's commitment to acting as a model for the community by supporting healthy families and receiving the business benefits of supporting nursing mothers. The designation is achieved by adopting a written policy and educating staff about it; ensuring adequate break time for breastfeeding employees; providing a clean, private place to pump breast milk; and demonstrating a strong commitment to supporting breastfeeding in the workplace.

"We know that returning to work tends to impede women from achieving their own breastfeeding goals," said Stephanie Rodriguez-Moser, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Lakewood, in a news release. "We have also seen that, despite Minnesota having strict rules about aiding mothers who return to work, too often these laws are ignored and women are shamed for continuing to breastfeed. At Lakewood, we have worked diligently to improve our lactation services not only for patients, but for our own employees. We are incredibly proud of this recognition."

Lakewood, along with the following employers, was recognized by MDH at the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition Meeting on Oct. 23 in Duluth: Carlton County, CentraCare Health St. Cloud, Cummins Power Generation, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Hastings Public Schools, Mercy Hospital Moose Lake.

This is the first year of MDH's recognition program, which was created and supported by the state Women, Infants and Children program and the Statewide Health Improvement Program.

Launched in 2008 as part of Minnesota's bipartisan health reform effort, Statewide Health Improvement Program works to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives while building healthy, vital communities. The program encourages healthy eating, active living and avoiding commercial tobacco by working with school, communities, workplaces and healthcare to make healthy choices easier.

FSA County Committee Elections to begin

Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini recently announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the 2015 FSA County Committee elections.

Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 7, 2015, to ensure that their vote is counted.

"County committee members represent the farmers and ranchers in their communities," said Dolcini. "Producers elected to these committees have always played a vital role in local agricultural decisions. They are essential to the daily operation of nearly 2,200 offices across the country. It is a valued partnership that helps us better understand the needs of the farmers and ranchers we serve."

Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs; conservation programs; indemnity and disaster programs; emergency programs and eligibility.

Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Approximately 1.9 million producers are currently eligible to vote. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.

Farmers and ranchers will begin receiving their ballots the week of Nov. 9. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. The FSA has modified the ballot, making it more easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can pick one up at their local FSA office. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7, 2015. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2016.

For more information, visit the FSA website at . You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or FSA office. Visit to find a nearby FSA office.


Last free workshop for estate planning

LITTLE FALLS - Thrivent Financial is hosting a free educational workshop on estate planning. The one-hour workshop is planned at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Little Falls Senior Center, 510 Seventh St. NE, Little Falls.

The workshop is being presented by Carlyle Olsen, financial associate with Thrivent Financial. The workshop helps participants understand the essential elements of any good estate strategy: wills, trusts, powers of attorney, charitable giving, living wills, and medical powers of attorney. For more information, contact Carlyle Olsen at 320-632-1655.

Food producers, leaders sought for workshop

Join Ryan Pesch, University of Minnesota Extension educator, to learn about how your produce business stacks up to other growers in central Minnesota and how much local food producers contribute to the economy.

The workshop will follow SPROUT's Holiday Market from 3-4 p.m. Nov. 21 in the former Crestliner warehouse at 609 13th Ave., Little Falls. There is a no charge to attend.

Pesch will present results of a recently completed study based on the farm finances of 11

central Minnesota produce growers.

"This is some of the first research into the financial health of local vegetable producers," said Pesch in a news release. The study's findings include average benchmarks that growers can use in business planning and also measurements of the economic impact of local vegetable operations on the region. Learn how to apply these findings to grow business and the local food economy. Go to to find more information about SPROUT's holiday markets


Menards to serve as toy drop site

In the spirit of Christmas, Menards home improvement stores are serving as a toy drive drop site.

Menards will have a drop box near the exit door to collect new and unwrapped presents from now through mid-December.

The Dispatch welcomes business notes submissions via email to , or fax to 218-829-0211, mail to Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 or use the drop-off box in the alley next to the Dispatch building on James Street. Questions are welcome to Renee Richardson at 855-5852.

More business notes may be part of the Business Extra section in Monday's edition.

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