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Pine Journal named Cloquet Chamber's Small Business of the Year

The award was given during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting and banquet Thursday evening at Black Bear Casino Resort. Frandsen Bank & Trust was named the Large Business of the Year.

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Megan Keller, publisher of the Pine Journal, speaks after accepting the Small Business of the Year Award during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton. The Pine Journal won the Small Business of the Year award.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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CLOQUET — The Cloquet Pine Journal was awarded the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Small Business of the Year award during the chamber’s annual meeting and banquet Thursday evening at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.

“We all know that the past few years have been both unique and challenging for everybody,” said Jeannie Kermeen, director of workforce development at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. “During these times, the Pine Journal has been a constant resource for our community.”

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Chair of the Board of Directors Jeannie Kermeen speaks during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Pine Journal Publisher and Advertising Director Megan Keller said the five years since she joined the team have been quite a journey.

“We closed our office in 2017 and it was one of the hardest decisions to make, but we chose people over infrastructure, knowing that the demand was feet on the street, reporting the news, helping businesses promote their brand and being an important part of this community,” Keller said. “These past two years have certainly been challenging, as many of the businesses can certainly attest to. However, during that, you can see this amazing, strong team made the city of Cloquet and the businesses their top priority. We strive to do our very best every day.”

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Kelly Zink, Chamber of Commerce executive director, right, congratulates Megan Keller, publisher of the Pine Journal, during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton. The Pine Journal won the Small Business of the Year award.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Regional editor Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten said the newspaper has published several in-depth packages and sections recently that she and reporters Dylan Sherman and Jake Przytarski have been proud of, including a Veteran’s Day feature with local veterans and anniversary coverage of the Moose Lake Lakers' "Triple Crown" achievement of state championships in volleyball, girls basketball and softball in the 1981-82 school year.

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In addition, Zettel-Vandenhouten remarked on the achievement of the Cloquet Happenings special section, crediting Keller and sales representative Scott Blatchford for spearheading the project.

Blatchford has worked at the Pine Journal for 26 years, and said he and his family have been proud and active community members throughout that time.

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Scott Blatchford with the Pine Journal speaks during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

“We’ve supported our local businesses over the years, and they’ve supported us and been a large part of our success at the Pine Journal,” Blatchford said.

The Pine Journal staff said the award is a great honor and they are proud of the work they’ve done to receive the recognition from the Cloquet Area Chamber and the business community.

“We don’t get into this business for the awards and the accolades,” Zettel-Vandenhouten said. “It means a lot, just from the perspective that it’s coming from other business leaders in the community. They’re looking at what we’re doing and they feel like it’s worth recognition, and it’s pretty meaningful.”

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Jennifer Zettel-Vandenhouten, editor of the Pine Journal, speaks during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton. The newspaper won the Small Business of the Year Award.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The Pine Journal, which has served the Cloquet community since 1884, began operating under its current name in 2002 when the Cloquet Journal and Pine Knot newspapers merged. The newspaper is part of the Duluth Media Group, owned by Forum Communications of Fargo.

Frandsen Bank & Trust was awarded the Chamber’s 2021 Large Business of the Year Award, and was recognized for its support for the community and for the chamber.

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Mark Lanigan, left, bank president of Frandsen Bank & Trust in Cloquet, accepts the Large Business of the Year Award from Kelly Zink during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Cloquet Bank President Mark Lanigan said he believes the bank’s Paycheck Protection Program was a service that helped them stand out for the recognition this year.

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“We were one of the top leaders in all of our communities in which we represent in PPP loans and we appreciate the fact that the businesses and the clients in Cloquet are part of our life,” Lanigan said.

Cloquet City Administrator Tim Peterson also presented at the annual meeting and banquet to discuss the city’s half-cent sales tax.

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Tim Peterson, Cloquet City Administrator, gestures while speaking during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The tax, which was implemented in 2013, provided the city with $16.5 million to invest in parks and recreation and local road and utility projects, he said. The city plans to bring an additional half-cent sales tax request to the ballot in November. The tax, which would be in place for another 10 years, would raise funds for Pine Valley Park and the Cloquet Ice Arena restoration and repair.

Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Holly Hansen with the city of Cloquet speaks during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Frandsen Bank & Trust in Cloquet staff members pose for a photo after accepting the Large Business of the Year Award during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Mark Lanigan, left, bank president of Frandsen Bank & Trust in Cloquet, speaks after accepting the Large Business of the Year Award during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Business honors awarded by Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at annual dinner
Executive director Kelly Zink speaks during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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