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Class of 2013

Times' 5 Under 40 recipients varied in interests, but all share commitment to improving Central Minnesota

By Kevin Allenspach

Originally ran: January 19, 2014

One uses creative, entrepreneurial and marketing skills to bring 50,000 visitors to downtown St. Cloud each year.

Another is a lawyer, called a "rising star" by some who know her.

Two are former Division I hockey players. One was nominated by a number of people, including St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, and the other is a decorated veteran of combat in Iraq.

And a third-generation contractor, whose business has eclipsed $50 million in annual revenue, rounds out this year's Times Media 5 Under 40 winners.

For nine years, we've asked readers to nominate young professionals they believe are making a significant impact on their industry, profession and community. The winners are chosen by a selection committee that includes Times editors and previous award winners.

From this year's pool of 38 nominees, they chose Dennis Whipple, Betsey Lund, John Swanson, Brad Pieper and Chris Rice. Their names are added to a growing list of people who continue to shape the future of business in Central Minnesota.

Whipple, who recently became a St. Cloud school board member, is the executive artistic director for the Great River Educational Arts Theatre, which he helped create more than 15 years ago. The nonprofit organization has grown to employ 11 people full-time and sold more than 56,000 tickets to performances last year.

Lund is an attorney for the firm of Franz Hultgren Evenson, P.A. She specializes in employment law, family law, real estate and planning. She also helps victims of domestic abuse and provides reduced-fee and pro bono legal services for women at Anna Marie's Alliance.

Swanson, who played hockey for St. Cloud State University, enjoyed a brief pro career before returning home to launch a line of CrossFit Fast Factory gyms. He also has drawn thousands of athletes and spectators to town with first the Granite City Pond Hockey Championships and then the Granite Games — a three-day fitness competition.

Pieper, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, uses the lessons he learned as a field artillery officer to help lead sales and marketing efforts at Microbiologics, where his enemies now include food- and water-borne illnesses.

He's also on the board of a faith-based private school in inner-city Minneapolis, and is a certified mentor in a Brainerd program that helps people recover from addiction.

Rice, who has been a two-term member of the Nationwide Butler Builder Advisory Council, has led a company that has given a face-lift to many buildings in the area — including the Fifth Avenue Live! redevelopment. He also is a sponsor of charity efforts in the area including the March of Dimes, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way of Central Minnesota and Coborn's Cancer Center.

If you already know them, read their 5 Under 40 interviews and you'll probably learn something. If you haven't heard of them, read on, too. These likely will be some of tomorrow's newsmakers.


Class of 2013

Betsey Lund Ross
Lund Sauter

Brad Pieper
Microbiologics

Christopher Rice
Rice Building Systems

John Swanson
The Fast Factory

Dennis Whipple
GREAT Theatre


In the news in 2013

St. Cloud State University hockey player Drew LeBlanc received the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in April.

In May, the Vikings unveiled the architectural design for the new stadium in Minneapolis, a project then calculated at $975 million.

In June, 50 mph winds struck the St. Cloud area overnight. Downed trees and power line damage affected thousands of residents.

Assistant Coach Gary Fasching is selected to succeed legendary St. John's University head coach John Gagliardi.

The $10 million "diverging diamond" interchange opens at the intersection of Minnesota Highway 15 and Stearns County Road 120.

Stearns County spends $2 million to upgrade its 800 mhz radio system to close some holes in its coverage.

Source: Times archive

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