The Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans (TOYM) program is Minnesota’s only statewide recognition program for young leaders who have made major contributions to our state through volunteer service, community involvement, singular expertise, innovative thought or entrepreneurship.
TOYM honorees reflect the vast diversity of young people making a difference in the community through business, nonprofit and community organizations, education and government service.
MinnPost and MinnPost’s YPN are proud to be a 2011 TOYM partner, sharing the stories of each of this year’s exceptional honorees.
Today’s featured Outstanding Young Minnesotan is Ryan Thomas of Bemidji: businessman, entrepreneur, marketing marvel.
The founder of Snowshark Publications — producer and distributer of Best of Bemidji Quarterly Magazine — Thomas is a “buy local” activist and a man about town.
According to Julie Saari, author of the blog This Is My Town: Bemidji, Thomas’s days are spent networking, going on sales calls and checking out new business opportunities in the area.
For Thomas, supporting small business is a paramount value; he produces and delivers Best of Bemidji — a full-color promotional mailer with coupons for area businesses — at no cost to local residents.
The popularity of the publication, which launched in 2006, has generated steady sales growth and prompted the creation of a Best of Bemidji website where users can find information on local businesses and access coupons, special offers and giveaways.
In 2007, flush with success, Thomas embarked on another entrepreneurial venture. Along with his wife, he established a thriving seasonal inflatable bounce-house rental service.
As a way of giving back to their community, the husband-and-wife team often donate their time and the use of their inflatable bounce house to churches and other nonprofit organizations.
Thomas’s other volunteer service activities include serving as a Bemidji Area Chamber Ambassador — welcoming new businesses, professional persons, owners and new managers to the area — and serving as an active member of the Bemidji Jaycees, for whom he is vice president of public relations.
To hear more of Mitchell’s small-town success story, watch his TOYM video:
Join MinnPost’s YPN in honoring our state’s exceptional emerging leaders! The banquet is going to be amazing!
Stay tuned during the week as we continue to feature profiles of each of the 2011 TOYM honorees. Up next: Ni Suphavong, a Laotian refugee who overcame the odds to become the founder and owner of Jade Logistics, a thriving logistics company in Eagan.