At a time when cities and residents face numerous challenges, every helping hand makes a difference. The good news for Oakdale is that the Oakdale Business and Professional Association, with its members and nearly three decades supporting the community, is planning another active year in 2014.
The OBPA works to make Oakdale a place that is friendly to both businesses and customers. The group was founded by city administration and a handful of eager businesses, and through the years the networking connections and attention to local needs the OBPA provides have contributed to a fertile business environment and a thriving community.
For OBPA members, the group gives them the chance to keep their fingers on the pulse of their community. In turn, they bring their unique perspectives to the OBPA, giving the group as a whole better insight into the local business climate.
Bill Burns, OBPA president and president of Burns Insurance Agency, says during the next two years the OBPA will be focusing on its partnership with ISD 622. He noted that not only is the school district a large employer in the area, it is also responsible for influencing current students, who are the future leaders of the community. Connecting students with business leaders in the community who can serve as mentors would likely have beneficial outcomes, Burns adds.
The OBPA has also recently revamped its website, which now benefits OBPA members more than ever by driving web traffic to members’ own websites. The website also emphasizes a higher social media presence.
OBPA Calendar of Events
Spring Fling • April 10
The Oakdale Business and Professional Association will be hosting a Spring Fling at the American Legion Post 39 in North St. Paul. This event will replace the annual Gold Plate Dinner as the association’s largest fundraising, social and networking event with fun activities including entertainment by a DJ and a raffle with a major prize.
June Family Picnic • June 12
This is the one meeting a year in which the OBPA invites everyone in the community to attend. In place of the regular monthly meeting, the OBPA has a picnic-style lunch. For this event, the OBPA fires up a giant charcoal grill and serves nearly 1,000 hot dogs to local business leaders, elected officials, families and residents. The event is free.
OBPA Community Golf Tournament • June 23
Each year in June, the OBPA organizes a day of golf. This year’s event will be held at Oak Marsh Golf Course (526 Inwood Avenue North, Oakdale). Participants enjoy a low key day on the golf course with an emphasis on having fun and networking with other members and golfers. This event is wrapped up with a wonderful dinner, auction and awarding of prizes in the club house. Participation is open to the public.
Holiday Helping Hands • December
Each year, several thousand dollars worth of gifts and food are donated to help families in Oakdale. Santa and his elves deliver gifts during early December. Applicants’ names are supplied by school social workers. Here’s your chance to step up and join one of the most rewarding community projects sponsored by the OBPA. Volunteer to sponsor a family and shop and wrap their gifts, or volunteer to help distribute the gifts.
Oakdale Winter Wonderland • December
This event gives an opportunity for the Oakdale business community to mingle with families of Oakdale while enjoying a giant bonfire, visits with Santa, warm food and drink along with a horse drawn hayride, FREE! The OBPA sponsors this event in conjunction with the City of Oakdale and Maplewood/Oakdale Lions Club.
Strong businesses, strong community
According to Burns, the association is a valuable asset to local businesses.
“The OBPA is all about the community and being active in promoting community events and businesses within Oakdale to make them profitable,” he said. “We want to help businesses in any way we can. This allows businesses the opportunity to work with the residents of Oakdale and others in the community to improve their reputation and name recognition around the region.”
The OPBA also encourages residents to support area businesses by shopping locally. This not only helps local businesses thrive, but also ensures that residents’ dollars are reinvested in their own community.
In addition to promoting local businesses, the OBPA takes an active role in the community in and around Oakdale. With Holiday Helping Hands, the OBPA and Tartan High School students collect and distribute food and gifts to families in need each December.
“We have the resources – both financial and relational – to be able to address the issue without overburdening any particular group of people,” explained John Larson, a pastor at Hope Church who serves on the OBPA board of directors.
Larson said that the OBPA is well-positioned to make an impact with programs such as Holiday Helping Hands because of the numerous connections to goods and services that its members share.
“Working together through all the networks we have through the OBPA is huge,” Larson said.
The OBPA also provides four scholarships each year, to high school seniors from Oakdale with exemplary academic and community service records.
Stacie Penn, of Carol Mathey’s Center for Children and Families, lauds the OBPA’s scholarship support.
“OBPA’s commitment has been there on the long term for this,” Penn said.
While any single business that offers scholarships may have trouble with funding in a down year, Penn noted the OBPA is able to provide a reliable resource for motivated students.
“Our hope is that they will continue by volunteering in their communities, even if they don’t stay in Oakdale,” Penn said.
Recently the OBPA has increased its involvement with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, an organization that provides support to families of active service members of the United States military. OBPA members supply essential services families may need, especially if the head of the household is stationed overseas.
One of the ways the OBPA raises funds for its community-care initiatives is through annual fundraising events such as this year’s Spring Fling. In addition to raising funds for worthy causes, the event is also a great networking opportunity and an all-around good time.
For those involved in the OBPA, it’s easy to see how the organization benefits both members and the surrounding community. And for those not yet involved, Bill Burns encourages them to find out more for themselves.
Board of Directors 2014
President • Bill Burns • Burns Insurance Agency
Vice President • Ben Smetana • Oak Springs Chiropractic
Past President • Daniel Rude • TeqOne
Treasurer • Jack Burke • Burke, Wheeler & Assoc., P.A.
Secretary • Todd Rudeen • Platinum Bank
Education • Stacie Penn • Carol Matheys Memorial Children’s Center
Eggs N’ Issues • Rick Timm, D.D.S. • All Family Dental
Golf Tournament • Angie Propp • Highland Bank
Guest Speakers • Frank Orsello • Cavalier Barber and Beauty Salon
Holiday Helping Hands • Pastor John Larson • Hope Church
In Sixty Seconds • Jodi Christensen • Lake Elmo Bank
Membership • Holly Koep • Lillie Suburban Newspapers
Promotion • Ted H. Lillie • Lillie Suburban Newspapers
Civic Events • Marc Cove • Platinum Bank
Spring Fling • Tony Schwartz • Allegra/Image 360
Summerfest • Amy Brown • State Farm Insurance
City of Oakdale Representative • Craig Waldron • City of Oakdale
Summerfest Medallion Hunt • Larry Eberhard • Keller Williams Premier Realty
Website • Dan Peterson • Professional Business Services Inc.
At Large Members • Caleb Brunz • Paul Davis Restoration and Dick Fisher • E-merge Online
OBPA 2014 Membership Meeting
Meetings are held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Feb. 6 Oak Marsh Golf Club
March 6 Oak Marsh Golf Club
April 3 Prom Center
May 1 Prom Center
June 12 Family Picnic Oakdale Fire Station #1
Aug. 7 Lake Elmo Event Center
Sept. 4 Lake Elmo Event Center
Oct. 2 Holiday Inn and Suites St. Paul NE
Nov. 6 Holiday Inn and Suites St. Paul NE
Dec. 4 Holiday Inn and Suites St. Paul NE
OBPA 2014 Board Meetings
Feb 20 Platinum Bank
Mar 20 Duke’s
Apr 17 Duke’s
May 15 PINZ
Jun 19 PINZ
Jul 17 PINZ
Aug 21 Hilton Garden Inn
Sep 18 Hilton Garden Inn
Oct 16 Sgt. Peppers
Nov 20 Sgt. Peppers
Dec 18 Sgt. Peppers
Acumen Legal Advisors Thom Okoneski
City of Oakdale Lori Pulkrabek
Greg Foote Jewelers Greg Foote
North High School Jed Helwig
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Mindee Kastelic