St. Peter Woolen Mill and Mary Lue’s Yarn & Quilt Shop

Pat Johnson and Peggy Grey, two vivacious sisters who own a pair of southern Minnesota’s oldest family businesses, are day-brighteners.

If your mood’s been slightly skewed by corporate and stock market scandals, a snail’s pace economic recovery, pink slips, job outsourcing, bickering politicians, a couple of nasty wars and color-coded terrorism alerts, an hour with Johnson and Grey is an upbeat, uplifting 60 minutes. Two hours is even better.

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El Sarape

Today’s immigrants wear different faces than the pioneers who populated the sod houses and the prairie towns across southern Minnesota. But they struggle for the same opportunity, a chance to live better lives than in their homelands.

More than a century ago, an immigrant shopkeeper in the bustling railroad settlement of St. James might have been asked this question: “Wie sind Sie nach St. James hergekommen?” (How did you come to St. James?)

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Aerospace Systems

Forget your negative notions about the Defense Industry for a moment, especially your perceptions of fat contracts and shoddy quality.

Set aside your irritation at $650 toilet seats, backroom deals on supertankers, late deliveries and cost overruns. Instead, take a look at the industry from the perspective of Aerospace Systems in Fairmont and its general manager, Mike Wasmund.

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Center For Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Five years ago, Dr. Corey Welchlin faced an uncertain future as the only orthopedic surgeon in Fairmont.

He loved orthopedics and wanted to keep practicing in the town where he was born. But he suspected that the Mayo Health System planned to eventually import its own orthopedic specialists after buying the Fairmont Medical Clinic in 1996 and acquiring the Fairmont Community Hospital in 2000.

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Katolight Corp.

Despite his training as an aeronautical engineer, Lyle Jacobson never designed soaring rockets or jet aircraft for a living. Instead, he discovered life (and opportunities) outside the realm of space.

For 24 years, he’s helped provide peace of mind to people whose feet are rooted firmly on earth, not in the stratosphere. Jacobson heads Mankato’s Katolight Corp., which supplies emergency power generation systems to customers who must continue operating despite rolling blackouts or ice storms.

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Resource Connections

When Kathie Davis left her job with the Region 9 Development Commission in 1996, co-workers said “bon voyage” with a gold watch and an office chair.

Those were useful and appreciated gifts, but Davis left with something of far greater value: Her thick Rolodex, brimming with the names and telephone numbers of people she knows can make things happen in southern Minnesota and beyond. It’s the chief asset of “Resource Connections,” the company she formed after serving Region 9 from 1973-79 and 1985-96 as public information coordinator and marketing director.

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Najwa’s Catering

A simple sandwich launched Najwa Massad’s career.

She operates Najwa’s Catering in Mankato, providing everything from box lunches to sit-down dinners, serving as few as five and as many as 2,500. She caters weddings, funerals, anniversaries and company events ranging from in-office lunches to picnics and parties. Massad has been the exclusive caterer for all events at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center since it opened in 1995.

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