Local business owners recognized at Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce meeting

Celebrating Success

Local Businesses Recognized for Excellence in Albert Lea

(ABC 6 News) – Albert Lea Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce held its 143rd annual meeting Thursday at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

The Chamber of Commerce invited local business owners to celebrate successes of the past year and reward an outstanding small, medium and large business for their hard work.

James Hagen is the co-owner of Bleachers Bar & Grill and winner of the Medium Business of the Year award. He says he was “totally shocked” to find out he won.

“Me and my partner don’t have the schooling, not business school or anything, but when in 2019 we bought the place, we just felt like it was a great opportunity to fulfill a dream we both had,” said Hagen.

For a smaller business, they do a lot to give to people in need, such as their involvement with the Geneva Cancer Auction and charitable gambling events.

“We aren’t getting rich, we aren’t, you know we’re doing fine and stuff like that, but a lot of the money that we do make, we try to give back to the community,” said Hagen.

Robert Hoffman Realty, which took the award for Small Business of the Year, also got a shout-out at the event for their community outreach.

Co-owner Robert Hoffman says staying active in the community is a rewarding way to say “thank you.”

“It’s our duty to give back,” said Hoffman. “We’ve had a community give a lot to us.”

Hoffman and his wife say they haven’t had a day off in 15 years.

“We know how much housing means to somebody, that’s how much it means to us. I think that’s why somebody as small as our little brokerage can win small business of the year. It just means that much to us,” said Hoffman.

The winner of Large Business of the Year was the event’s host, Wedgewood Cove.