Entrepreneurs Award Dinner tonight

The John M. Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas College of Business will hold its 16th annual Entrepreneurs Dinner at 6:30 p.m. tonight, May 4, at The Depot in Minneapolis.

Attendees will recognize the successes of four noteworthy Minnesota entrepreneurs, hear an update on entrepreneurship education at St. Thomas and get a "sneak peek" at Schulze Hall, the new building, scheduled to open next fall, that will house St. Thomas’ School of Entrepreneurship.

Of the awardees, Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the College of Business, said: "Each business represents an important aspect of Minnesota’s entrepreneurial community and stands out as being a ‘head of the class.’ While their overall histories and operational models vary dramatically, they’ve each found success through tremendous … hard work and perseverance."

The awards and this year’s recipients are:

John F. Cade Entrepreneurial Award – Given to a local individual who possesses outstanding entrepreneurial attributes, capitalizes on entrepreneurial opportunities, contributes to the community and has high standards and integrity, this year’s award will be given to Michael Dougherty, founder and chairman of Dougherty Financial Group LLC.

Dougherty’s holding company, established in 1977, has assets of $15 billion and includes several asset-management, securities and commercial lending businesses. He is a member of numerous professional associations and serves on a variety of area boards, including those of the Guthrie Theater, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Science Museum of Minnesota. In 2002 he was named to the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans who overcome adversity to achieve success.

The Cade award is given in memory of John Cade, a 1970 St. Thomas graduate and founder of Cade Industries. He died in a 1986 airplane crash.

Family Business of the Year Award – Presented by St. Thomas’ Center for Family Enterprise and given for business leadership, participation of multiple generations, community involvement, support of family business education and involvement with the university, this year’s award will be given to the Helgeson family of Gold’n Plump Poultry Inc.

Founded in 1926 by the late E.M. Helgeson, the St. Cloud-based, third-generation family business has nearly 1,200 employees and is now the Upper Midwest’s largest fully integrated producer of premium quality poultry. E.M.’s son Donald is the company’s president and board chair, and his grandson Michael has served as CEO since 1993.

Entrepreneurship Alumnus of the Year Award – This award honors a St. Thomas alumnus who best exemplifies the values, practices and theories the school instill in its students. This year’s award goes to Keith Thorndyke, M.B.A. ’91. His organization, Helping Companies Create Value, provides strategic and tactical consulting services for billion-dollar companies, venture capital firms, boards of directors and accredited investors. A 22-year business veteran, Thorndyke has started and sold successful businesses, served as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate business students and helped small and mid-sized technology and manufacturing companies create $100 million in realized shareholder value.

Pentair Prize – This $5,000 scholarship, given to an entrepreneurship student who has launched a creative and successful venture, will be awarded to St. Thomas senior Ben Anderson. With meager savings and little equipment, Anderson started Cinemotion Studios, his wedding-video production company, out of his student apartment in 2001. Cinemotion now has three additional part-time employees, leased office space in St. Paul and more than $15,000 in assets. The company anticipates providing services at more than 90 weddings this year.