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Business Person of the Year: Brown dedicated to customers, community

Jean Brown, advertising sales manager for the Bulletin newspaper and RiverTown Multimedia, was named Business Person of the Year. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

Visit a Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce event and you’ll probably find Jean Brown working there. Brown, advertising sales manager at the South Washington County Bulletin newspaper, was named Business Person of the Year at the Chamber’s 2014 Annual Banquet. She was nominated by four members.

“Jean connects with people; they trust her,” said Becky Fox, an independent consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc., in Cottage Grove, and a Chamber colleague. “When she talks about advertising, she’s not just trying to sell me something but trying to help me build my business.”

Brown, who has worked in marketing and advertising for companies in the Twin Cities for more than 30 years, said she had never before joined a Chamber. “I never really knew which businesses were in Cottage Grove when I was driving into the (Twin) Cities for work every day,” she said. “When I started with the Bulletin and got involved, I suddenly realized how much was here in Cottage Grove, because I saw it differently and realized how cool this community is.

“When you live and do business in the same town, it’s more fun to take part in the local Chamber, to connect, to enjoy the people and watch their businesses grow.”

Brown, a member of the Chamber for nearly five years, is on the Chamber board, the events committee and belongs to a subsidiary group, Women in Business.

“The women’s group is especially worthwhile,” she said. “It’s a great way to meet local business women, have fun, share ideas. The group is very upbeat and motivating. I always learn something new at their meetings.”

Colleen Stelmach, Chamber office manager, said, “Brown is dedicated to her customers and the community and her profession. She always goes the extra mile. Her enthusiasm for our communities, her work and the Chamber is contagious.”

She said Brown initiated the Women in Business flier for members to have access to affordable advertising. She assisted the Chamber’s economic development committee with its Cottage Grove Guest Pass, which is distributed at Cottage Grove Athletic Association tournaments. And she aided the membership committee in production of advertising for the spring Business Showcase, including an event map.

“The biggest piece for me was seeing Jean work,” said Aaron Bushberger, outgoing Chamber treasurer and representative for South Washington County Schools. “It is more than just a job for her, she really cares about her clients and the Cottage Grove community. She’s about the relationships she’s built.”

Brown can be found at Chamber luncheons, After Hours gatherings and the spring Annual Banquet. She is a representative on the Holiday Train committee, a joint effort of the Chamber, the cities of Cottage Grove, Newport and St. Paul Park, local businesses and Canadian Pacific Railway to raise money for the Friends in Need Food Shelf, in St. Paul Park. The committee begins its work in late summer and, last year, raised more than $142,000 at a 10th anniversary event that drew nearly 15,000 people. Brown spent hours, along with many other volunteers, wrapping loaves of holiday bread, stuffing Santa boots and setting up and braving the cold weather at the event in early December.