Trending News

St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses & Individual for 2023

Krista Paulus, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of Barbell Coffee LLC (City of River Falls), Aves Studio (Town of Troy), and Ciranda (City of Hudson) as recipients of the 2023 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

The EDC Board of directors also named William (Bill) Rubin as the recipient of the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization championing economic development through innovative actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents.

The companies and Mr. Rubin will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 22, 2024, at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course, 163 Radio Rd, River Falls, WI starting at 5:00 o’clock p.m. with check-in, networking, and cash bar.

“The 2023 winners demonstrate the varied and unique attributes of St. Croix County businesses,” said EDC President Krista Paulus. “Barbell Coffee is making its mark with organic single source coffee beans, roasted to order. Aves Studio is known throughout the world for their products used in manners as varied as taxidermy to coral reef restoration. Ciranda is an employee owned company committed to corporate giving, volunteering and sustainability. Former EDC Executive Director, William (Bill) Rubin left his fingerprints on many projects in St. Croix County during his twenty seven plus years in economic development. It is with pride and gratitude that I congratulate each of these nominees on winning this year’s awards.”

About the 2023 Honorees
Barbell Coffee LLC is the 2023 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The company was founded by Ender Gocmen in 2020 and registered with the state on 3/12/21. Barbell is a small batch specialty coffee company that offers the key features of :a) small batch; b) single origin; and roast to order. Barbell offers both signature series coffee and seasonal coffee throughout the year. The company’s differentiator is its use of both single origin and specialty grade beans that are roasted to become premium coffees. Barbell is also an e-commerce business. They do not have a retail location, but actively seek out retail (wholesale) accounts. They offer subscriptions for their products where consumers can select the coffee type, roast level, amount, and delivery frequency (ground shipped or local pickup). Learn more at

Ave’s Studio is the 2023 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). Aves offers over 40 types of clay and mache products and ships to resellers in 38 countries. Their products are used in museums such as the Smithsonian, to Hollywood special FX artists, for taxidermy, and at zoos, aquariums and theme parks, among other uses. They are also used in coral reef restoration projects as their clay is waterproof, non toxic and doesn’t crack, shrink or peel. Learn more at

Ciranda is the 2023 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Founded in 1994 by Brazilian-born Hans Friese, together with his wife, Joan, Ciranda has been the premier North American provider of certified organic, non-GMO and Fair-Trade food ingredients. In 2017 Ciranda’s founders transferred company ownership into the hands of the employees, and makes yearly contributions of stock or cash to the ESOP on behalf of their employee owners. They are also committed to donating a portion of their net income both domestically and globally each year. In FY23, Ciranda donated over $45,000.00 domestically. Some of the recipients include: St. Croix Valley Food Bank, Hudson Hospital Foundation, Grace Place Shelters, Hudson Backpack Program, River Valley Charities and Somerset Food Pantry. Ciranda is fully committed to sustainability and economic fairness for all. Learn more at

About WiIliam (Bill) Rubin
William (Bill) Rubin enjoyed a 27.5 year career as the Executive Director of St. Croix EDC from 1996-2023. Many projects led by St. Croix EDC revolved around the core strengths of marketing and communications, business retention, expansion, recruitment, new business start-ups, workforce development, and legislative advocacy. Rubin helped plan the St. Croix Valley’s inaugural legislative day in Madison. It is now an annual event and the St. Croix Valley is well branded among legislators and state agencies. Rubin worked hand in hand with John Soderberg in advocating for the approval of the St. Croix River Crossing. Along with others, their work started in early 1997 following a determination by the National Park Service that the proposed new bridge had a detrimental impact on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Following years of work, the new crossing was approved in 2012 and opened in 2017. Many hands touched the project, but the effort is attributed to Mr. Soderberg and Mr. Rubin.

Event Details
This is the 31st business awards program conducted by St. Croix EDC. The event is open to the public but reservations are required. Watch the Trending News on the EDC website to purchase your tickets.

About St. Croix EDC
St. Croix EDC was established in 1994 as a public-private business league that operates as the independent economic development arm of St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Reflective activities include marketing and communication, business retention, business expansion, business recruitment, new business incorporations, workforce development, and advocacy on behalf of business and industry. Initiatives taken by St. Croix EDC help improve the business climate of St. Croix County, allowing businesses, large and small, to grow and prosper.

For more information, contact Nita Dusek at (715) 690-2110.