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Kato Insurance enters Greater Mankato Growth Business Hall of Fame

THE FREE PRESS (November 15, 2017) — Kato Insurance has done or currently does business with 35 of the 71 businesses in the Greater Mankato Growth Business Hall of Fame.

Kato Insurance started in the 1960s as the Michaletz Agency and recently acquired Willard and Williams Agency, which had a century of history in Mankato. This year, Kato Insurance joined the Hall of Fame and was honored at the GMG awards banquet Tuesday night.

“This is truly an honor, friends and business associates that nominated us,” said Kato Insurance President Scott Michaletz at the banquet. “It’s kinda humbling to think that you think our family and business is worthy enough to be a part of this group in the Hall of Fame.”

Michaletz has also chaired the Hospice Family Fundraiser for 23 years and has raised more than $2 million.

“In all, it’s based on your ideals and passion, we truly love what we do,” Michaletz said before the banquet. “Insurance is related to the community. When a bad storm hits, we’re very involved. When a fire destroys a business, we’re there.”

Also honored at the banquet was Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, which received the distinguished business award. The winery was started from scratch in 2008.

“It’s a pleasure to receive this award and it’s humbling to be honored,” said Kent Schwickert, Chankaska’s proprietor. “My family business (Schwickert’s Holding Company) is in the hall of fame. To start from the ground and to have your pursuits recognized by your peers is very humbling.”

This was the 30th annual Greater Mankato Growth Business Awards and Hall of Fame banquet, said GMG President and CEO Jonathan Zierdt.

“Here we are celebrating businesses and highlighting some of their endeavors,” Zierdt said. “It celebrates business that are shining examples that really create a community that we all appreciate, and it creates an energy and excitement in the business community that propels us forward.”

A full list of the awards:

Distinguished Business Award: Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery

Brian Fazio Business Education Partnership Award: Junior Achievement of Greater Mankato; Mankato Area Public Schools; Loyola High School
(Recognizes partnerships that enhance education and business in Greater Mankato)

Hap Halligan Leadership Award: John Bulcock
(Recognizes an individual who has participated in the Greater Mankato Leadership Institute program and has demonstrated outstanding creative or innovative contributions to the community)

Young Professional of the Year: Christopher Harstad
(Recognizes an individual between the age of 21-40 who has made outstanding contributions to the community through their demonstrated leadership and service)

Visit Mankato Awards

Bring It Home Award: Paul Gaspar, Mankato United Soccer Club
(Recognizes an individual, group or organization that works alongside Visit Mankato to bring a significant event to Greater Mankato)

Hospitality Award: Mankato RibFest
(Recognizes an individual, group or organization who has gone above and beyond to provide outstanding hospitality to the visitors of Greater Mankato or who has helped promote Greater Mankato as a great destination to visit)

City Center Partnership Awards

New Construction Over $5,000,000: Block 518 (Tailwind Group)

Renovation $500,000 – $1,000,000: Bluebird Cakery

Renovation under $500,000: Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Minnesota State University, Mankato)

Preservation Stewardship: Boy in Blue Monument (Boy in Blue Civil War Memorial Project)

Downtown Detail: Kites Mural (City of Mankato)

Creative Placemaking: Human Foosball (Greater Mankato United Way)

CityArt “People’s Choice” Award: “Maestro”