BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Mike Nielsen is a strong supporter of the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce.
As the only Sherman Insurance agent in Wright County, Nielsen joined the DACC in 2012 to meet and network with other business professionals.
“Without an office here at the time, I definitely wanted to become more of a presence and meet people and network and see what the chamber was all about,” Nielsen said. “ . . . The chamber seemed like a good spot to meet other business owners and people in town.”
He steadily became more involved, first joining a committee in 2013, then running for the DACC board, where he served as secretary in 2015, vice president in 2016, and now president for 2017.
“Mike is one of those guys who’s not afraid to jump in and get involved,” said DACC Executive Director Ryan Gueningsman. “Mike has served on our board of directors since 2015, and has been active with our business development and ambassador committees He’s been an asset to the chamber and to the Delano business community, and I’m excited for the year to come.”
Nielsen said he believes the DACC gives business owners a chance to get together with each other on a different level “obviously outside the aspect of solely what their business is, and work toward other things. There’s a lot of volunteering that goes on. It’s good for the community as a whole. You get to know your competition. You get to become friends with them. Everyone knows the town is big enough for everyone.”
The incoming president has a number of goals for the DACC, including building on the work of previous presidents Tom Screeden and Becky Schaust to give business owners a good answer to the question, “What can the chamber do for me and my business?”
“Becky, and Tom, and I have had this vision of moving the chamber forward into the type of an organization that is a useful tool for businesses,” Nielsen said. “I want to continue building on that. It would be great if people could throw ideas our way of what the chamber could be doing.”
One way the DACC can help local businesses is to nominate them for awards. For example, Brandt Companies recently received Wright County Economic Development Partnership’s High Economic Vitality Business of the Year award after being nominated by the DACC.
Just as the DACC helps grow local businesses, Nielsen would like to see membership grow.
“That’s another goal, not only to grow, but also for more members to get involved in more different things,” Nielsen said. “You don’t have to be on the board, but you can hop on a committee . . . It would be great to see new faces because with those new faces, you get new ideas.”
Another initiative that has been in the works for a couple years will continue.
“We’d also like to continue to explore the possibility of a larger Greater 12 Chamber,” Nielsen said. “At our last meeting, we explained the next steps with that. Tom Screeden is taking on that role. We’re still exploring all options for a larger chamber that would include other chambers, but we would still keep our identity of the Delano Chamber, with our own events, and own community feel in town. The main goal would be not to lose that.”
Nielsen believes the DACC is a strong organization because of the people involved with it.
“I would say that, for starters, I think our executive director Ryan Gueningsman is a very strong employee,” Nielsen said. “He’s not even full-time, but he has a very good handle on the different events and aspects of the chamber . . . We have, as it stands now, very strong committees and committee chairs . . . there’s a bunch of new committee members joining and a couple new chairs for those committees, as well.”
Part of the allure of the DACC is the Delano community itself, that Nielsen and his wife, Jaime, joined nine years ago.
“We’re both from small towns, so we like the small-town feel while being a reasonable distance from the metro,” Nielsen said, referencing the schools as a draw for them.
Nielsen grew up in Maple Lake and graduated from Maple Lake High School. In addition to his DACC duties, he coaches hockey and is a member of the Network Masters BNI chapter.
He and Jaime have three children: Cooper, 11; Crosby, 8; and Charli, 3.