PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – On Nov. 5, PCL Construction Services Inc. Superintendent Mike Durene was honored with the Turtle Award from the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce for his commitment to the American Indian community.
The Turtle Award is given to an individual or organization that volunteers their time, energy and services beyond their normal work responsibilities to support and promote MAICC and the chamber’s efforts to promote American Indian business. The award is named after the turtle, an animal which is a constant giver and represents longevity and wisdom in the American Indian tradition.
Durene has worked continuously on more than 30 construction projects at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community since 1995. During this time, he developed new and innovative programs to recruit, train and employ American Indian construction workers.
“We support companies and individuals that are cognizant of the economically depressed conditions that many American Indians face. All large construction projects require that the contractor hire a percentage of Native American employees and subcontractors,” said Bill Rudnicki, tribal administrator for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. “Mike has consistently hired as many American Indian contractors and employees as possible for his jobs, and he is committed to this important goal. His project results typically far surpass the stated requirements for goals which we have set.”
Currently, 33 percent of American Indians in Minnesota are unemployed. The crew of Durene’s most recent construction project at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel was 45 percent American Indian.
Durene also mentors American Indians who are trying to build successful businesses. David Bice, president of Bald Eagle Erectors, is one American Indian who has turned to Durene for professional guidance. Since Bice developed a relationship with Durene, Bald Eagle Erectors has become a consistent partner on PCL projects throughout the upper Midwest.
“As an American Indian in the construction industry, I have seen first-hand the stereotypes that Native Americans deal with on a daily basis,” Bice said. “Mike’s commitment to Bald Eagle Erectors and other American Indian companies has given us the opportunity to carve our niche in the construction world.”
PCL Field Engineer Spence Etzkorn, who nominated Durene for this award, said, “Mike is a humanitarian who does not see color, just the good in people.”
Etzkorn recalled a time Durene heard that the relative of one of his American Indian workers was struggling after losing his job. He had eight kids and no money for Christmas. Without hesitating, Durene passed a hat through the job site and the PCL office, raising more than $900 in one day for the family. “That is the kind of man Mike Durene is.”