Press release

26 Aug 2020 Minneapolis, US

EY Announces Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2020 Heartland Award Finalists

Celebrating the unstoppable entrepreneurs whose ambitions transform our world

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Related topics Entrepreneur Unstoppables

Celebrating the unstoppable entrepreneurs whose ambitions transform our world

Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) today announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2020 Heartland Award. Now in its 34th year, the Entrepreneur Of The Year program honors successful business leaders whose ambitions deliver innovation, growth and prosperity as they build and sustain groundbreaking companies that transform our world. These 24 business leaders from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota were selected as finalists by a panel of independent judges.  

Award winners will be announced during a special virtual event in early October and will join the ranks of a lifelong community of esteemed Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni from around the world. This year, unstoppable entrepreneurs who have provided extraordinary support to their communities, employees and others during the COVID-19 crisis will also be recognized for their courage, resilience and ingenuity.

The 2020 Heartland finalists are:

  • Tony Miller | Bind (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Atif Siddiqi | Branch (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Andrea Abbs | BRIGHT Research Partners, Inc. (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Nadim Yared | CVRx (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Mike Black | Dent Wizard International (Bridgeton, Missouri)
  • Aneela Idnani and Sameer Kumar | HabitAware (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Andrey Sokurec | Homestead Road (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Chad Stelzig | Image Sensing Systems (St. Paul, Minnesota)
  • Christopher Smith | Kipsu (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Mark Fritz and Michael Hutchinson | Lakeshirts, LLC (Detroit Lakes, Minnesota)
  • Troy Vincent | Navigate Wellbeing Solutions (West Des Moines, Iowa)
  • John Thomson | PayIt (Kansas City, Missouri)
  • Mark Ties | Perforce Software (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Charlie Youakim | Sezzle (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Matthew Dunlevy | SkySkopes (Grand Forks, North Dakota)
  • Chad Hetherington | The Stable Group, LLC (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Kristen Denzer | Tierra Encantada (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Thomas Cardella | TLC & Associates (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
  • Joe Welu | Total Expert (Golden Valley, MN) 
  • Michael Jordan | UNRL (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
  • George Hicks and Marcia Page | Värde Partners (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Entrepreneur Of The Year is one of the preeminent competitive business awards for entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies. Finalists were evaluated based on six criteria, including overcoming adversity; financial performance; societal impact and commitment to building a values-based company; innovation; and talent management. Since its launch, the program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries throughout the world.

“Our finalists have been carefully selected for their grit, persistence and ambition coupled with care and concern for their employees, companies and other stakeholders,” said Dominic Iannazzo, EY’s Heartland Entrepreneur Of The Year Program Co-Director. “Now more than ever, we need unstoppable entrepreneurs to inspire innovation, fuel growth and deliver long-term value for their communities and lead us to what’s next.”   

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards, to be announced in November during a virtual awards gala. The Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award in June 2021.

Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners become lifetime members of a global, multi-industry community of award winners, with exclusive, ongoing access to the experience, insight and wisdom of fellow alumni and other ecosystem members in over 60 countries — all supported by vast EY resources.

For information on the Entrepreneur Of The Year Heartland program, please visit


Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored by SAP America and the Kauffman Foundation.

In the Heartland, sponsors also include Colliers, Padilla, PNC Bank, Salo and Twin Cities Business.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year®

Entrepreneur Of The Year® is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for unstoppable entrepreneurs. These visionary leaders deliver innovation, growth and prosperity that transform our world. The program engages entrepreneurs with insights and experiences that foster growth. It connects them with their peers to strengthen entrepreneurship around the world. Entrepreneur Of The Year is the first and only truly global awards program of its kind. It celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. Winners go on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ title.

About EY Private

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