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Arnquist Carpets Plus ColorTile has been in business for more than 75 years. The company currently employs five individuals.

Employers of the year -- State Bank and Trust, and Arnquist Carpets Plus ColorTile

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Alexandria, 56308
Echo Press
(320) 763-3258 customer support
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

The Lakes Area Professional Women's organization (LAPW) has announced the 2011 Employers of the Year.

State Bank and Trust of Alexandria was named the Large Employer of the Year (25 or more employees), and Arnquist Carpets Plus ColorTile of Alexandria was named the Small Employer of the Year (fewer than 25 employees).

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The annual awards are given to recognize employers who make opportunities available to women employees.

The selections are made based on how well the company:

• promotes the advancement of women.

• promotes educational opportunities.

• utilizes creative company initiatives that empower women.

• provides upward mobility and training.

• recruits, retains and develops women leaders.

• supports parental leave and child care.

• demonstrates philanthropic support of the community.

The businesses were honored at a local awards program held in conjunction with National Business Women's Week (NBWW), October 17-21.

The event was held on October 19 at Holiday Inn and honored the Employers of the Year as well as the Professional Woman of the Year.

State Bank and Trust has been in business for 45 years and currently employs 516 people, 353 of which are women. Of those employees, there are 54 female managers and 35 male managers.

The company promotes employee growth and career opportunities. Staff members are expected to strive for self-improvement. Educational opportunities such as classes, seminars and meetings are available internally and through other organizations.

The company supports employees by providing training and leadership programs and believes in promoting from within when possible.

The company also supports outside programs for employee development, such as the 35 Under 35 Leadership Program, Leadership Alexandria, Madison School of Banking and others.

The work week is designed to encourage employees to have their career while allowing flexibility to promote family life and community involvement.

State Bank and Trust's bottom line, according to nominator Jaci Stepan, is "Happy employees! Happy customers!" So the company is in tune to the needs of its employees to spend time with family for medical, personal or childcare issues.

Philanthropic initiatives

Following are a few of the ways State Bank and Trust gives back to its employees and to the community:

• Pay it Forward Program gives full-time employees $1,000 and part-time employees $500 to give to an individual, family, organization or cause in need. A majority of these funds stay in the local community and have been given to such causes as the United Way Food Drop and District 206 Special Education Department.

• Pay It Forward Family and Friends gives employees an extra day off and a $200 gift card to spend with their family.

• Aside from company-sponsored employee donations, the company donates to numerous organizations and sponsors the Toys for Area Children Program. The bank supplies dolls and toys for community volunteers to check out. The volunteers sew clothes/blankets, assemble/decorate the toys and return them to the bank where they are donated to an organization that gets them to children in need.

• The company gives its employees a clothing allowance and in turn encourages employees to donate clothing to the company-sponsored professional clothing drive.

Arnquist Carpets Plus ColorTile has been in business for more than 75 years. The company currently employs five individuals.

According to employee Connie Gonzalez, it is a "team oriented" place to work and employees are given the opportunity to grow in the business.

Continued educational opportunities and training are offered and encouraged to employees, and personal leave and childcare leaves are supported.

Employees are encouraged to join community organizations and the company itself supports local charitable organizations.

"Although we're a small company, I have been given the freedom to learn and grow," Gonzalez said. "Tom [Arnquist] is very supportive of my position in the company, but most importantly, he supports my commitment to my family as well.

"The biggest thing for me is that Tom values my work and always listens to my ideas and he respects my knowledge and expertise.

"Tom earned my respect and I appreciate him and how he runs his company," she added. "As a woman, wife and mother, I can say with all honesty and sincerity there is no place I would rather work and spend my time away from my family than Arnquist CarpetsPlus!"

Past Employer of the Year honorees:

2010Henry's FoodsSomeplace Safe

2009Knute NelsonPrairie Lakes Dental

2008Douglas County HospitalIntegrity Title

2007Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.Trumm Drug

2006Alexandria Technical CollegeIntegrated Health

2005Alexandria ExtrusionSlumberland Furniture

2004Runestone Electric AssociationNeighborhood National Bank

2003Tastefully SimpleDental Health Associates

2002Ellingson Plumbing & Heating100.7 KIKV-FM

2001Bethany HomeDouglas County Animal Hospital

2000Broadway Medical CenterSocial Security Office

1999Cowing RobardsLakes Area Chamber of Commerce

1998Viking Savings AssociationManpower

1997Echo PressNorwest

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