The Oakdale Chamber of Commerce: From humble beginnings, it continues to link business, community and service

Left to Right back row: Bill Burns, Ben Smetana, Paul Balfanz, Tarah Bayer, Marc Cove Eric Morley, Stacie Penn, Larry Eberhard Kristie Shafer Left to Right Front Row: Holly Koep, Angie Propp, Tami Bauer, Frank Orsello, Rick Timm, John Larson

The Oakdale Chamber of Commerce's first meeting of 2018 filled the rental hall at Oak Marsh Golf Course. Only a few present at the packed meeting knew exactly how humble the group's origins are.


"We founded this in 1985. I think there were six people at the first meeting," says Frank Orsello, an original Chamber member and owner of Cavalier Barbers. "We met beneath Duke's Pizza. It was cold. We started in the basement."

In the mid-1980s, commerce in Oakdale had hardly bloomed. The city didn't just need more businesses; it needed a group of people dedicated to the task of attracting more. That group of people became the Oakdale Business and Professional Association (OBPA).

"We wanted to get a restaurant in here. We called, wrote and begged," Orsello says. "We couldn't get a Burger King or a McDonald's! Oakdale was considered too small." 

Over the past three decades the landscape has changed dramatically, the OBPA is now the Oakdale Area Chamber of Commerce (OACC) and the OACC now provides a vital web of connections.

"We've got city officials, county officials, the school district, school board members, larger businesses and a lot of small businesses," says Chamber President Ben Smetana, a chiropractor in Oakdale. "They join to give back to the community and to build relationships within the community. To network."

The Chamber facilitates cooperation between Oakdale's city administrators and its commercial side. Member meetings on the first Thursday of each month keep the conversation going between both parties.

"From our perspective, we want that positive relationship with the businesses. If we have something we need to go to them for, I can call Ben or any of the board members," says Oakdale City Administrator Bart Fischer. "When they have issues or challenges, they come to us. I don't know how we'd be able to function without this relationship."

Networking opportunities abound for members of the Chamber. Businesses can host events for fellow members at their own locations, in a series called Business After Hours.

But building and supporting businesses is not the Chamber's only purpose. Giving back to the community is just as central to its mission.

"We focus a lot of our effort toward our Holiday Helping Hands event. We had a record year with that event this year,” Smetana says. “We have also added a partnership with the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf.”

2017 saw the addition of another Chamber-sponsored scholarship. There are now six scholarships available through Co-Action that students within ISD 622 may apply for. Beyond providing scholarships, the Chamber is interested in mentoring students and future entrepreneurs.

"We'll invite business students into the Chamber. We like to be there for them and support the young entrepreneurs," Smetana says.

The Chamber's year-round events schedule is key to its ability to give back. Events like the Spring Fling and Oakdale Area Business Showcase provide networking opportunities and family-friendly entertainment, while shining a light on the business sponsorships. 

The events generate the funds that allow us to give back, or are made possible by the funds we generate.

The Oakdale Chamber of Commerce is always accepting new members and is eager to continue to grow.

2018 Oakdale Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

President: Ben Smetana, D.C. - Oak Springs Chiropractic 

Vice President & Membership:  Holly Koep, Apollo Heating and Air

Treasurer: Paul Balfanz - Burke, Wheeler & Associates

Secretary: Tarah Bauer, That's My Idea Marketing

Ambassadors Committee: Kristie Shafer, Lillie Suburban Newspapers

City Representative: Bart Fischer, City of Oakdale

Civic Events: Marc Cove, 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 Barbers

Holiday Helping Hands: Pastor John Larson, Life & Leadership Coaching

Meeting Sponsors: Bill Burns, Burns Insurance Agency

Business After Hours: Brandon Neumann, Edward Jones

Oakdale Area Business Showcase: Jodi Christensen, Lake Elmo Bank

Promotions: Ted H. Lillie, Lillie Suburban Newspapers

Springs Fling: Tony Schwartz, Beacon Properties

Summerfest Medallion Hunt: Larry Eberhard, Keller Williams Premier Realty

Website/Social Media: Eric Morley, Big Frog Custom T-shirts & More

At Large Members: Caleb Brunz Paula Davis, Tami Bauer Minnesota Seasons

2018 Oakdale Area Chamber of Commerce Directory

Advanced Vision Clinic and Optical - Chad Bogren

Affordamac LLC - David Netter

Alerus Financial - Scott Johnson, Robert Hartzell, Liza Moncrief, Barbara Sheldon

All Family Dental - Dr. Richard P. Timm

Allegra/image360 - Tony Schwartz

Allina Health Clinic-Oakdale  –  Nancy McCallum, Stephanie Lombardi

Allstate Insurance - Kris Kiefer-Vik

American Family Insurance - Carmen Sarrack

American Legion Post #39 - Tammy Ryan

Anytime Fitness Oakdale - Jennifer Hochradel

Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning - Eric Mattren 

Balloon Artistry by Mandana - Mandana Moshrefzadeh

Berwald Roofing and Sheet Metal Company, Inc  - Gene Berwald

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities  - Jean Setley

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More - Eric Morley

Bighley Auto Body

Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle - Josh Stevenson

Buffalo Wild Wings

Burke, Wheeler & Assoc., P.A. – Jack Burke, Kelley Wheeler

Burns Insurance Agency - Bill Burns

Cardinal Realty, Homebuilders, Remolding & Appraisals  - Tom Wiener

Carol Mathey’s Center for Children & Families - Stacie Penn

Cavalier Barbers - Frank Orsello

Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf - Greig Metzger

Citizens Community Federal N.A. - Cindy Boggess

City of Oakdale – Jen Hassebroek, Sue Berry 

Clair Wagner & Sons Insurance Agency - Bruce Wagner

CMG Financial Mortgage - Anders Johnson

Coldwell Banker Burnet - Matthew Kennedy

Comcast Business Kayla_Jordan 

ComForCare Home Care- St. Paul East - Paula Anderson

Computer Integration Technologies, Inc. - Christopher Taylor

Cosmopolitan Apartments

Cricket Wireless - Cliff Garza

Crossroads Properties - Mike Conners

Cruise Planners - Jodi Campbel

Ecumen Lakeview Commons - Mary Ann Schaefer

Edward Jones Investments - Brandon Neumann

Envision Catering and Hospitality

ESR, Inc. - Rick Robbins

Executive Suites of Minnesota - Greg Freeman

Fare For All

Finishing Touch Car Care, Inc. - Dan Meyer

Fractional Toy Store

Furlong’s Liquor, Inc. – Dan Furlong, Terry Furlong

Gary Insurancenter - Joe Garry

Girls Are Powerful - Shawntan Howell

Goldfish Swim School

Great Plains Windows & Doors - Tony Flint

Greg Foote Jewelers - Greg Foote

Hardee’s - Dan Cole

HealthSource of Oakdale - Amanda Kelsey

Hearing of America, LLC – Jerry Zhou

Highland Bank - Angie Propp

Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale - Sheila Lukonen

Holiday Inn & Suites St. Paul NE-Lake Elmo – Michael Weldon

Hy-Vee, Inc. - Dan Wellinghoff

Ideal Credit Union

Image360 Woodbury - Gina Kazmerski

IRC Retail Centers - Julie LaPlante

IRET Properties

Jody Bergsgaard Realtor

JW’s Bierstube

Keech Media - Nathan Keech

Eberhard Group-Keller Williams - Larry Eberhard

Keech Media

Keller Williams Premier Realty - Pat Kinney

Kwik Trip - Kelcie Knewtson

Lake Elmo Bank - Jodi Christensen

LasikPlus Oakdale - Shay O’Brien

Lee Stoerzinger, Inc. - Lee Stoerzinger, CFP

Legacy Dance Studio, Inc. - Eileen Lewis

Life & Leadership Coaching - John Larson

Lillie Suburban Newspapers, Inc. – Kristie Shafer, Bob Rink, Ted H. Lillie

Machine Shed – Nicholas Corbin, Brian Roberts

Maplewood-Oakdale Lions Club

Marcus Oakdale Cinema -  David Bresette

Merit Chevrolet - Bruce Rinkel

MetroEast Nutrition and Chiropractic - Dr. Martin Furlong

Minnesota Seasons, Inc. - Tami Bauer

Minuteman Press - Troy Miller

Morning Glory Home Care - Laurie Staiger

MTD Communications, Inc. - Russ Barrett

Nighthawk Security - Joseph Castro

North American Banking Company - Ben Loesel

North Star Bank

Northwoods Financial Planning

Oak Marsh Golf Club - Steve Whillock

Oak Meadows Senior Living - Connie Dow

Oak Springs Chiropractic: A Creating Wellness Center – Benjamin Smetana, Heidi Salonek, Andrew Lundgren

Oakdale Collision Center - Michael Juen

Oakdale Economic Development Commission - Mark Landis

Oakdale Fire Department - Jeff Anderson

Oakdale Optical Center - Dr. Trent Cole 

Oakdale Community Development - Bob Streetar

Oakdale Wesleyan Church

Olive Garden

Patios and More LLC - Kenneth Cordes

Paul Davis Restoration - Caleb Brunz

PINZ Craig Creasy

Platinum Bank – Marc L. Cove, Krista Kook

Polar Family Chiropractic Center - Donald R. Mandel

Premier Banks - Brian Carnes

Principal Financial Group - Randy Rheault

Professional Business Services - Dan Peterson

Pure Dental - Matt Philippi 

Quantum Merchant Services (QMS) – Leslie Rudrud, Rob Olson

Rust Law PLLC - Ben Rust

Sauro & Bergstrom PLLC

St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce - Mindee Kastelic

School District 622 - Christine Osorio

Sgt. Peppers Grille & Bar - Rob Kinskey

Silver Oak Development, Inc. - Paul Reinke

Smiths Medical

Spartan Martial Arts Fitness - Jeffrey Rank

Spartan Promotional Group – Mike Hohenwald, Jim Johnson

State Farm Insurance -Amy Brown Insurance Agency, Inc. - Amy Brown

State Representative JoAnn Ward

State Representative Leon Lillie

State Senator Susan Kent

Stiglich Construction - Robert Stiglich

Stoudt Law Ltd. - Anne Stoudt

Sunray Heating & Plumbing, Inc. - Glen Roeske

Tartan High School

That’s My Idea Marketing - Tarah Beyer

The Waters of Oakdale - Lia Hamilton

Thrivent Financial - Stacy Nystrom

TLC Veterinary Hospital Dr. Houstoun Clinch

Trustone Financial Credit Union

Twin Cities-Metro Certified Dev Comp - Peter Ingebrand

U.S. Bank – Theresa Smidt, Sherry Minor

Visiting Angels - Jennifer Flores

Wessel Real Estate Group - Warren J. Wessel

Washington County CDA - Chris Eng

Washington County Workforce Center

Western Insurance Agency - Jim Tubbesing

Wipfli LLP

2018 Oakdale Area Chamber of Commerce Events

April 19 - Spring Fling

June 7 - Eggs N' Issues

June 14 - June Family Picnic

June 21-23 - Oakdale Summerfest

June 25 - Golf Tournament at Oak Marsh

October 28 - Oakdale Area Business Showcase

Early December - Holiday Helping Hands

December 15 - Winter Wonderland


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