EY Entrepreneur of the Year

The number of successful entrepreneurs in the region continues to make Minnesota an amazing place to live and work. To honor the hard work of these risk-takers and creators, EY hosts a yearly awards gala that focuses on their success.

This year Salo nominated a number of outstanding companies for the 2017 Upper Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Seven finalists were invited to attend the awards Gala where three were selected as winners. Learn more about these entrepreneurs and what this award means to them:

Joel Conner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bellisio Foods, Inc

“The recognition of being a finalist for EY Entrepreneur of The Year Award is the best compliment I can share with my team to recognize our collective success.” – Joel Conner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Bellisio Foods

Bellisio is committed to achieving and maintaining food industry excellence through innovation, every step of the way. They are driven by consistent improvement of their products with efficient development, testing and refinement, and are dedicated to being experts in the commercialization and production of the highest-quality frozen meals possible. Bellisio believes that they have a responsibility to make our world a better place and to help the people in it. They love great food and truly care about the people they feed.

Learn more about Bellisio Foods, Inc.


Jennifer Smith, CEO, Innovative Office Solutions LLC

 “I am so excited to be a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award.  There are so many wonderful entrepreneurs in Minnesota that to be a finalist is an amazing honor.  To be recognized for all the hard work and risks that entrepreneurs take is appreciated.” – Jennifer Smith, President & CEO at Innovative Office Solutions

 Innovative Office Solutions brings business to life and life to business. They help organizations develop systems that keep you and your workplace running, providing exactly what you should have to make work easier, more enjoyable and more efficient. They offer a variety of services, including: office essentials, design and furniture solutions for work environments, breakroom and coffee services, cleaning and facility supplies, printing and promotional items and managed print services.

Learn more about Innovative Office Solutions LLC.


Ben Gray (Owner), Jeff Gray (President), Scott Gray (Owner), Creative Apparel Concepts, Inc.

“We are very excited to be included as finalists for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award. It is a wonderful honor to be included with the successful entrepreneurs listed as finalists. We are so grateful to have such a hardworking, dependable team that has made it possible for this acknowledgement.” – Ben Gray, Owner, Scott Gray, Owner & Jeff Gray, President at Creative Apparel Concepts

Creative Apparel Concepts designs, manufactures, and markets apparel for men, women, and children. Founded in 2000, Creative Apparel Concepts has secured their role in the market as a product development powerhouse that consistently bring new and innovative products to the market, including: distribution to mass merchandisers, high-end retailers, boutiques, and resorts.

 Learn more about Creative Apparel Concepts, Inc.

Congratulations to all 2017 winners and finalists! See more photos from this year’s awards gala.