Jeanne Votca-Carpenter

The lady next to the Trix rabbit ears who has been wringing stories about a kid burping the alphabet on Jay Leno will do almost anything to let the whole world know about her employer and her industry. She’s Jeanne Votca Carpenter, 49, Senior VP of Marketing & Business Development at the 230-employee Bloomington office of Shandwick International, the world’s No. 3 public relations firm.Though usually she doesn’t spend time inside this particular Shandwick brainstorming room (see above), she still must sell and market the creative juices flowing inside it. In a way, she is the top public relations person for a top public relations firm.

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Fly Away AgriProducts Inc.

Boo-hoo, said the businessman because he couldn’t find enough qualified workers to help him make his product line. The labor shortage in Minnesota had inflated his wage costs and cut his margins to the bone in a dog-eat-dog industry. What was he going to do?

When Duane Sibbet was hit with the above quandary, he didn’t boo-hoo. Rather he did what he thought made sense: he closed up shop. And close he did – his Twin Cities home construction business – and began a whole new career and business at age 40 in Blue Earth, Minn., compliments of that city’s economic development authority and an idea gleaned from his parents’ horse blanket business.

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