This issue marks our 20th anniversary profiling southern Minnesota’s most interesting business decision makers.

What a perfect opportunity to give a shout-out to Enventis and Manpower, businesses that have advertised with us every issue since March 1994. They believed in us. Thank you. Not many magazines—or media outlets, for that matter—can say they have had two nonstop advertisers for 20 years.

As editor, I’ve been with Connect Business Magazine 18 of the 20. I really believe Connect Business Magazine has lasted and succeeded two decades—a span during which many, many print publications in our reading area have come and gone—because Publisher Jeff Irish has a business model emphasizing quality of product.

Nearly all magazines in Minnesota have full-time salespeople working feverishly to pull sales in. We don’t. Perhaps 85 percent of our advertisers contact us first. Our part-time sales manager, Steve Persons, works with us only about one day per week. We like to believe the quality of our photography, graphic design, and writing has been our top salesperson most of these 20 years. You might think this business model different. But it works.

Our magazine staff has nearly 125 years of combined publishing experience just with Connect Business Magazine, from Publisher Jeffry Irish, Office Manager Becky Wagner, Art Director Kris Kathmann, Graphic Designer Josh Swanson, Proofreader Dave Maakestad, Illustrator/Photographer Jon Smith, and Sales Manager Steve Persons, to my part-time role as editor. Everyone above except Steve Persons and this editor work for the magazine’s parent, Nicollet-based Concept & Design, which began in 1979 under Irish. It continues today as a quality graphic design studio with satisfied clients locally and nationally. See

As staff, we have to remind ourselves each issue that we continually have new readers. In fact, we have some readers right now who weren’t even born yet when our first 1994 issue arrived hot off the press. So occasionally, we have to retell our growth story. A 20th anniversary issue is one great venue.


A bit off topic: Not long ago, I finished writing a short book on the advantages of counties not only merging more of their services with other counties for the purpose of saving taxpayer dollars and improving service delivery, but also of two or more counties physically merging to become one, counties merging with cities, or two cities merging. This issue is relevant to businesses. We help pay the bills. We receive government services.

As Baby Boomers retire—and by 2030 every Baby Boomer alive will be over age 65—citizens and politicians may need to think more outside the box in terms of helping make governments in general become more productive. Relatively soon, the Baby Boomers—and I count myself as one—will be taking far more from the money pot than we will be anteing up.

Over the last ten years, a quiet movement has been gaining steam across America to consolidate counties—if such consolidations lead to savings and efficiencies—in much the same way many school districts have consolidated. It makes sense in larger states dominated by rural counties, such as Minnesota. Georgia, Nebraska, Oregon, and Kentucky have active movements. Several states have bills pending that would allow counties to merge. If anyone would enjoy reading the e-book, email to receive a free copy.


Back on topic: Nowadays, 20 years is a long time for anyone to do anything. Again, as editor, I’ve been around 18 of those years, and have witnessed an evolution in how readers relate to this magazine, and vice versa. In March 1994, no one in southern Minnesota was using the Internet except a few college geeks. In 1996, when I started, the fax machine kept us busy. During the first six years of the magazine, we received feedback from readers primarily in the form of hand-written letters. I still have every letter. By 2000, the societal switch-over to email for communicating was nearly complete. Today, we receive only two or three hand-written letters a year. Most readers communicate with us through our website, email, by telephone, through Facebook or by visiting our Nicollet office in person, roughly in that order. I will say, though, the hand-written letters the last ten years have been the most memorable due to their rarity.


For the last three years, I’ve been your part-time editor, a part-time free-lance writer (such as with the book above), and a part-time licensed professional counselor, with the latter job eventually garnering more and more of my time. In 2011, after finishing a master’s degree in mental health counseling at Minnesota State Mankato and getting licensed, I started my own small business.

As many of you know, the starting of a business can demand a great deal of time, hard work, and persistence. The learning curve has been steep—not just for starting the business, but also in further learning my profession. Recently, I moved my counseling offices to Lake Crystal, where I continue helping people overcome or manage anxiety, depression, work or family relationship issues, grief, abuse, and adjustments to life, such as career decisions and more.

In rural Minnesota, professional counseling as a career has one major point working against it, and one for. Many rural Minnesotans feel a stigma towards receiving counseling services. They are used to handing problems alone. That’s the point against. The point for is that most people under age 40 don’t perceive a stigma. They are the future.

As my business grows, I gradually will cede bits and pieces of creating the written parts of Connect Business Magazine over to capable associates and freelancers, but intend on staying involved in future years—perhaps over time just doing the cover story and overseeing. So be prepared for seeing some new names.


Finally, thank you readers, for putting up with us 20 years. We can’t even begin telling you about all the hundreds of times we grew and changed because of your feedback. You have encouraged, prodded, cajoled, thanked, connected with, equipped, congratulated, and occasionally spanked. Your overall acceptance of our efforts has made everything worthwhile.

Again, thanks for reading southern Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine, since March 1994, the only one reaching 8,800 business decision makers in nine counties.

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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