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Dakota Electric named 'Great Place to Work'

A commitment to helping its employees stay healthy has earned Dakota Electric Association a spot on Minnesota Monthly's list of the state's best places to work.

The magazine printed its "Great Places to Work" list its January issue. Dakota Electric employees went through a series of interviews with the magazine during the selection process.

Minnesota Monthly identified Dakota Electric with the help of consultants asked to point out companies that offer benefits that are unique or above average.

Dakota Electric, a power cooperative that serves much of Farmington and the surrounding area, received special recognition for the options it provides to help its employees stay healthy, from brown-bag lunches featuring conversations about health care topics to a health fair held every November.

The health fair gives employees a chance to get several tests done.

"They'll do blood screening and test for all the stuff they test for," said Joe Miller, Dakota Electric's communication specialist. "That's been really popular."

Miller said one of the businesses involved in last year's health fair -- the 15th the company has held -- called it the best they'd attended.

The regular brown bag lunches feature speakers on topics such as stress management.

Dakota Electric also offers a Biggest Loser-style weight loss club. There are 47 employees participating this year. In three years club participants have lost more than 1,800 pounds.

"It doesn't cost the co-op a cent. It's totally funded by the employees," said Denise Hrncir, Dakota Electric's benefits administrator.

Dakota Electric employees are also active in the community beyond the co-op's Farmington headquarters. Hrncir and several others serve as drivers for Meals on Wheels and others are active in other ways.

Hrncir should know a little bit about whether Dakota Electric is a good place to work. She's been with the cooperative for 29 years.

"I feel that I'm very spoiled to be an employee here," she said. "We have employees who have been here 40-plus years. I don't think they'd be here that long if it wasn't a great place to work."