More than 200 business leaders from around Minnesota gathered on Wednesday, May 20, to honor ethical excellence with the presentation of the 2009 Minnesota Business Ethics Award.

The MBEA was established in 1999 by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas. Its purpose is to raise the standards for business ethics in Minnesota and to honor companies that exhibit the highest standards of ethical performance. In 2004 the Rotary Club of Edina joined as an award sponsor.

Five companies from around the region received the award. They are:

KeyStone Search, an executive search firm based in Minneapolis

Two Men and a Truck, an Edina-based home and business moving franchise

RJF Agencies Inc., a professional risk management, employee benefits and commercial insurance firm based in Plymouth

Park Nicollet Health Services, a hospital- and clinic-based health care provider based in St. Louis Park;

St. Jude Medical, a medical technology and services firm with globalheadquarters in St. Paul.

Ernest Almonte, chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and auditor general of the state of Rhode Island, gave the keynote address. Almonte, who travels widely both within the United States and internationally, remarked on how impressed he was with the Minnesota business community for supporting this annual award focused on business ethics and for its long tradition of corporate citizenship.

His talk underscored the critical importance of integrity for personal and business success. He gave practical advice for both leaders and organizations about the importance not only of complying with laws and regulations but also of moving beyond that to create the tone that builds and sustains cultures of high ethical standards.

MBEA recipients are selected based on company size; categories are small (under 100 employees), midsize (100 to 500 employees) and large (more than 500 employees). KeyStone Search and Two Men and a Truck received small-company awards. RJF Agencies, Inc. received the midsize-company award. Park Nicollet Health Services and St. Jude Medical received large-company awards.