College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2023

    Celebrate the Entrepreneurial Spirit

    Join us this fall as we celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in the students and alums of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. It’s a chance to applaud accomplishment, admire innovation and spark some ideas of your own.

    Award winners are selected from nominations recognizing their entrepreneurial spirit by successfully launching and leading ventures, seizing opportunities, leveraging resources and initiating changes that create value.

    College of Saint Benedict Entrepreneur of the Year

    Shannon Verly Wigger
    Shannon Verly Wiger '04

    Shannon leads her real estate development and design company, Shannon Wiger & Co., with a focus on adaptive reuse projects that connect historic and underutilized properties with growing businesses. Projects include several of the most significant historic properties in Central Minnesota, including the First National Bank of St. Cloud building (1889) which earned a “Top Project Award” from Minneapolis Finance & Commerce and “Project of the Year” from Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. She has also recently completed a number of projects in St. Joseph, MN including the renovation of the Frank X Timmers Saloon (1870) and the former St. Joseph Police Station (1920). She takes great pride in uncovering hidden opportunities and reimagining properties in a way that generate a positive economic impact for the communities in which she works.

    Shannon was named one of St. Cloud Times “5 Under 40” business leaders in Central MN, was the Downtown Council’s Urban Hero Award recipient for economic impact in 2017 and 2018, and received the City of St. Cloud’s Rock On Award for her leadership and fundraising efforts for Hockey Day Minnesota, St. Cloud. Shannon is currently an advisor at Great North Ventures, a board member of the Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation and an advisor at the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University.

    In addition to her entrepreneurial ventures, Shannon is Director of Business Development at the Minneapolis and St. Cloud based law firm of Moss & Barnett focused on building the firm’s strategic relationships and key practice areas, along with supporting firm clients in their growth.

    Shannon has lived in Central Minnesota since graduating from the College of Saint Benedict with her B.A. in Spanish and Economics in 2004. Shannon and her husband Nick live in Sartell, MN with their sons Jack and Owen, and daughter Anne.

    Saint John's University Entrepreneur of the Year

    Dusan Kosic
    Dusan Kosic ’07
    Dušan is a co-founder and the President of HTEC Group, a premium software engineering and digital product development company. He is responsible for the company’s corporate organization and development, while also taking an active role in its M&A activities.

    Before joining HTEC as a partner in 2010, Dušan was a Foreign Direct Investment Advisor at SIEPA (Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency) and a fund manager at the Innovation Fund in Serbia. Dušan graduated from Saint John’s University in Minnesota, where he served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2017 through 2021, making him the youngest board member in the university’s more than 160-year history. Dušan holds an EMBA from Cotrugli Business School and he has invested in several technology startups.

    As a leader, he is a true believer in continuous education and his main objective is to keep evolving HTEC into being the best possible partner for our clients as well as being the best platform for the growth of its people, supporting them to reach their full potential.

    College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Social Entrepreneur of the Year

    Paul Williams
    Paul Williams '84

    Paul Williams, President and CEO, is deeply rooted in our community. Raised in the heart of Saint Paul, his strong connection to the Twin Cities region, its neighborhoods and its people, fuels his work. PPL’s fourth executive director in its history, he managed all city operations as Deputy Mayor of his native city before joining PPL in April 2014.

    Paul has spent his career creating partnerships and building community. While spearheading community development locally and directing operations in 30 cities nationwide for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), he developed an unparalleled understanding of the opportunities and challenges around affordable housing and community development. With compassion and a sense of what works, Paul has served as a grantmaker for The Minneapolis Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation and the United Way of the St. Paul Area. He has also contributed to the leadership of a wide range of community boards. His spirit of collaboration, connection to our communities and commitment to amplifying PPL’s impact energize our work.

    Donald McNeely Center for Entreprenuership College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University

    There’s a moment of truth that stands between innovators and entrepreneurs. Within that moment, you start something – a venture all your own. Everything after that is merely figuring it out. The McNeely Center provides a thoughtful blend of education, mentorship and encouragement to students from any major. With guidance and advice from McNeely staff, faculty and alum mentors, our students don’t simply wrestle with ambiguity. They embrace it.

    Sponsorship Opportunities
    We invite you to join us in supporting the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship as we pursue our mission of "Inspiring the Entrepreneurial Spirit". You can contribute to this mission through your personal or business sponsorship of the Entrepreneur of the Year Event. Our sponsorship levels are detailed below. If you are interested in sponsoring the event reach out to Becca Brzezinski at 320-363-2065 or for further information and inquiries. Your generous support will help us continue our work with students, alumnae, alumni, and community members.  

    Sponsors of the event will receive comprehensive promotional benefits, including recognition on the McNeely Center website, event sponsor signage, and the pre-presentation slide show. Additionally, sponsors will receive event tickets for the admission of their guests to attend the event.

    • Venture Partner ($5,000)
    • Innovator ($2,500)
    • Designer ($1,000)
    • Trend Spotter ($500)

    2023 Event Sponsors

    Venture Partner

    Granite Logistics

    Innovator Sponsor



    Granite Partners Logo

    Mike Urbanos & Rosann Fischer

    Designer Sponsor

    Range Digital logo

    Foster & Brever LLC logo

    Trend Spotter Sponsor

    Youth Frontiers

    Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

    Little Pepper Promotions logo

    Flightless Logo