June 07, 2012
Knox College faculty member Nic Mink and Knox alumnus Jay Matson '65 were among the honorees at the 2012 Small Business Day Awards Luncheon, sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Support Network of West Central Illinois.
Nic Mink: Entrepreneur of the Year
Mink received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award on behalf of Sitka Salmon Shares, a new business that focuses on bringing sustainable seafood to the Midwest.
Mink, whose official title is "chief salmon steward," co-owns the business with two recent Knox graduates, Helen Schnoes '11 and Eric Ballard '11. Headquartered in Galesburg's Sustainable Business Center, Sitka Salmon Shares works only with small-boat fishermen in Alaska who use low-impact fishing methods and handle each salmon carefully.
The salmon are delivered to select locations, including Galesburg, Peoria, and the Quad Cities. Part of the revenue from the business goes toward habitat restoration and enhancement projects.
"To me, what makes entrepreneurship unique is it offers a bridge among disciplines, and it moves liberal education from the classroom to the community," Mink said.
More information about Sitka Salmon Shares is available on the company's website.
Jay Matson: Entrepreneurial Lifetime Achievement
Matson was chosen for the Entrepreneurial Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes a career "of successful achievement in a business that embodies the spirit of entrepreneurialism and innovation," according to the ESN.
As president of the Seminary Street Historic Commercial District, Matson has helped "incubate countless businesses by providing technical assistance to his tenants on Seminary Street," according to the citation for the award. "No one is more deserving of this award than Jay Matson."
The three-block-long section of downtown Galesburg's Seminary Street -- home to unique specialty shops and restaurants such as The Calico Cat and Landmark Café -- is one of the most successful small specialty districts in the Midwest.
In a written acceptance speech, Matson credited his wife, Mary, "for her pioneering role" in the success of the Seminary Street district.
"As a young, divorced mother in 1968, she opened a small boutique to sell her handmade clothing. That was The Calico Cat," he said.
"Before Seminary Street was launched as a downtown restoration project, Mary paid her dues for over a decade. So, it should be noted that it was Mary who saw the potential in the decrepit buildings on the street," Matson added. "It was her entrepreneurial spirit and creative vision that made it happen."
The Small Business Day Awards Luncheon was May 22, 2012, in Galesburg, Illinois.