Dana and Brody Syverson receive the PRIDE (Pelican Rapids Individual Demonstrating Excellence) award from Pelican Rapids Chamber of Commerce President Joe Clauson. The award was presented as a tribute to the late Ryan Syverson, Pelican school teacher-coach, who died in August.

An inspirational, post-mortem tribute and several new awards and honors were presented at the Pelican Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Sept. 8.

Earning the “PRIDE” award, but sadly not present for the honor, was the late Ryan Syverson. His three-year struggle with brain cancer ended in August, but his courageous battle and the community-wide connection prompted the Chamber’s unusual decision to present the 2023 PRIDE (Pelican Rapids Individual Demonstrating Excellence) award to the family of the late teacher-coach.

The second honor, Chamber Member of the Year, was presented to Sandie Strandlien. She was the driving force behind the resurrected “Showcase Pelican Rapids” business and trade show. Strandlien has also been active in retail promotions, the Merchants on the Move, and other civic activities. Already, Strandlien is planning for 2024. She announced the spring Showcase date, which will be April 26. 

Sandie Strandlien was named “Chamber Member of the Year” at the Sept. annual Pelican Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce awards banquet.

Under Strandlien’s leadership, the Merchants on the Move committee has organized numerous successful events, including an Easter Scavenger Hunt, Spring and Fall vendor fairs, an area Garden Tour, and the Lighted Horse Parade.

Newly created awards were a highlight of the Chamber’s annual meeting, held at Milt’s Barn and catered by Taqueria Escobar.

Mike Carlson earned the new Community Renewal Award for his extensive improvements at the Carlson Group RE/MAX building in the heart of the downtown business district. Real estate broker Carlson has his offices in the building, plus three tenants: Lage Financial, 47 North Salon, and New York Life.

Lana Grefsrud and her Hillbilly Laser business, new to the city this summer in the former Senior Citizen Center building, was presented the Digital Innovation Award.

Larry’s Super Market received the new Community Involvement Award, presented to Brittany Dokken.

In business matters, Chamber President Joe Clauson declared, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and proposed increasing Chamber dues to fund important business-building initiatives. He also proposed the return of a paid Chamber staffer. The Chamber has operated as an all-volunteer organization for several years.

The Pelican Chamber is the only Chamber of Commerce in the region operating without paid support staff. Further, Clauson noted that Pelican Chamber dues are a third to a half lower than surrounding Chambers. 

Members present voted to increase membership dues by 50%.

The Chamber board also proposed multiple by-law changes. Members will have several months to consider the by-law changes, as the revisions will not be acted upon until a special membership meeting in January. 

Members will receive an emailed copy of the by-laws and proposed changes, and are encouraged to submit proposed by-law changes to the board via email at info@pelicanrapidschamber.com.