A state senator from Grand Forks who leads one of the region's largest architecture firms has won the city's most prestigious business recognition.
Lonnie Laffen, who is the president and CEO of JLG Architects, received the Henry Havig Award for Community Service on Thursday night at the annual dinner of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.
"It's incredibly humbling. You look at all these people, and all the people before you, and you just don't put yourself in that league. You work hard on all these things to improve your community, and you're not looking for attention," Laffen said. "In all that service, what you find quickly is that you get back a lot more."
A graduate of North Dakota State University, Laffen founded JLG with Gary Johnson in 1989 in Grand Forks under the name Johnson and Laffen Architects. The firm had various names over the years as it grew. When it opened an office in Minneapolis in 2002, the owners changed the name to its current title.
JLG has 120 employees and 10 offices in the Dakotas and Minnesota and has received more than 100 design awards over the past three decades. It's most recent venture was a merger deal with ACV2 Architecture in Rapid City, S.D., which was announced Jan. 1.
Laffen's company has had a hand in a large portfolio of projects, including planning for Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Alerus Center, Sanford Fargo Medical Center and the East Grand Forks City Hall building, to name a few.
Laffen also has been committed to giving back to his community as a past chairman of the Chamber, as well as other committees. He currently serves on the boards for Altru Health System and the Grand Forks Special Assessment Commission. He has served as an "unofficial architecture tour guide for downtown Grand Forks," said Bob Boyd, a past recipient of the award.
Named after a local businessman and community advocate, the Havig Award first was presented in 1977 and has been dubbed the highest honor a person from the Grand Forks area can recieve for community service, according to a news release. Marijo Shide received the award last year for her work as a volunteer in the community.
Former Havig recipients choose the winner.