May is Small Business Month, and entrepreneurs everywhere face uphill battles with funding, the economy, hiring and affordability in the effort to get their businesses off the ground. The website NerdWallet sifted through the factors that matter to small business owners to determine which cities are the best for those hoping to start a business and Minneapolis made the national top 10.

It is no surprise though, as evidenced by many of the entrepreneurial ventures launched here at St. Thomas or hiring our graduates. Several successful small businesses were honored last week at the 24th Annual Entrepreneur Awards Ceremony. Nearly 200 guests gathered to recognize those who foster and model the spirit of entrepreneurship each day.

During the awards portion of the evening, Dean Christopher Puto and Father Dennis Dease honored two individuals and a small business for their entrepreneurial thinking and commitment to giving back.

Dan Carr

The Entrepreneur Alumnus of the Year award went to Dan Carr, ’82, CEO of The Collaborative. With more than 25 years working with Minnesota entrepreneurs, he credits his UST education for much of his success. Carr also noted that 90 percent of job creation comes from small companies, further reinforcing the role and impact of all entrepreneurs.

Murphy Warehouse Company

Murphy Warehouse Company and Murphy Riggings & Erecting, Inc. were recognized as the Family Business of the Year. Richard Murphy emphasized how his company gives back to the community and its commitment to being green. He joked,” Since we’re Irish, we’ve always been green.” One way the company supports sustainability is through the use of solar panels, which provide 50 percent of the power used by the business. Murphy thanked his employees and noted, “Leadership will help sustain the company for next generation of shareholders, employees and customers.”

John Allen

The final award of the evening, the John F. Cade Award, went to John Allen, president, CEO and sole principal of Industrial Equities, LLP. Allen has always been passionate about education and that carries over into all that he does. “As the French say, hopefully the appetite comes while eating.” Allen noted that it’s easy to become passionate, even intense, when actively engaged in a project or topic. This passion and intensity only fuels his commitment to his family and his business.

Along with the honorees, Laura Dunham, Ph.D. and chair of the department of entrepreneurship highlighted a rather unique class led by Jay Ebben, Ph.D. and Alec Johnson, Ph.D. The Lemonade Project challenges students to identify a business concept and bring to market in the course of a semester. Courses like this show how UST is helping to shape Minnesota’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.