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Entrepreneurial Recognition

Recognizing Courageous Entrepreneurs 

The UMD CED is proud to recognize the entrepreneurs who follow their dreams and make a difference in the regional community. 

Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards: 1993 - 2017


Nothing happens except for the initiative of a single individual. - Joel Labovitz


The creation of the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards began in the early 1990’s at a regional conference sponsored by the Blandin Foundation. At that conference, Joel Labovitz, who at that time was President and CEO of Labovitz Enterprises, noted that economic conferences in this area often focused on the four T’s: Taconite, Timber, Transportation, and Tourism, but that local business owners deserved recognition for their significant impact on the regional economy as well. After this conference, an economic alliance was formed, which included Joel Labovitz and Kjell R. Knudsen, Ph.D., who at that time was serving as Director of UMD's CED.

In 1993, the CED established the Entrepreneurial Success Awards program. These awards honored the local businesses and entrepreneurs who dared to dream, took a risk, and made an impact in the regional communities. Over the years, new award categories were established, including awards for outstanding micro-enterprises and inventors. In 1997, the name of the program was changed to the Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards, or more commonly known as the “Labo Awards.” This name change was in honor of one of our region’s entrepreneurial success stories.

Joel Labovitz

Joel Labovitz is the founder of Labovitz Enterprises, a diversified investment firm based in Duluth with a focus on the hospitality industry. Previously, Mr. Labovitz was President and CEO of Maurices, the retail clothing company that was founded in 1931 in Duluth, MN by his father Maurice Labovitz.

2017 Labo Awards

In 2017, the Labo Awards celebrated its 25th anniversary, and Joel Labovitz was in attendance along with his family. The event was the most attended Labo Awards with close to 500 people. Mayor Emily Larson, Mayor of Duluth, MN, proclaimed April 22 “Joel Labovitz Day”, in recognition of Mr. Labovitz and his family’s contributions to the regional community.

PDF iconLabo Awards Discontinued Press Release_Feb 5, 2018

PDF iconView Labo Award Recipients Here