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Published November 12, 2013, 12:31 PM

National spotlight for Wrenshall, Minn., egg farm?

Locally Laid Egg Co. in Wrenshall is one of the top four finalists in a nationwide contest to win a free commercial during the Super Bowl. That’s out of tens of thousands of entries.

By: Candace Renalls, Forum News Service

DULUTH, Minn. — Locally Laid Egg Co. in Wrenshall is one of the top four finalists in a nationwide contest to win a free commercial during the Super Bowl.

That’s out of tens of thousands of entries.

The winner of the Intuit Small Business Big Game Contest will be determined by online voting that kicked off Monday and continues until Dec. 1.

“We need this community to rally,” says Jason Amundsen, who co-owns the business with his wife, Lucie. “It’s the only way we’re going to win.”

Not only are the owners of the state’s only commercial-scale, pasture-raised egg business asking for the public to vote for them, but so is Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

“It would be the first time a Minnesota company has won on Super Bowl Sunday,” Ness joked during a “get-out-the-vote” news conference on Monday. He noted that there was a short window — just 2½ weeks — to get behind the company and vote.

Jason Amundsen says it was an enormous opportunity to bring a small Northland business to the national stage, right along with Frito Lay and Pepsi.

Locally Laid is up against some fierce competition for the 30-second commercial: GoldieBlox of Oakland, Calif., which produces engineering toys for girls; Barley Labs of Burham, N.C., which makes dog treats out of spent grains from beer brewing; and Dairy Poop of Nampa, Idaho, which turns cow waste into garden compost. All finalists are new small businesses.

The Amundsens, who live in Duluth, have 2,500 chickens on property they own in Wrenshall. They say chickens that get exercise and forage on grasses not only are humanely treated but produce eggs with less cholesterol and fat.

“We’re not doing anything new,” Jason Amundsen says. “It was the way it was done in my grandfather’s day. We’re just bringing it back.”

They’ve teamed up with a farmer in Iowa who also has pasture-fed chickens and is distributing eggs in the Twin Cities area under the Locally Laid brand. More farmer partnerships are coming, which will expand distribution in the Midwest and possibly beyond, Jason says.

The couple learned they were contest finalists last week, when a limousine arrived with several people from the contest, including contest spokesman Bill Rancic, the winner of the first season of Donald Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice.”

The Amundsens thought the crew was coming to do a video of the top 20 semifinalists. But the visitors surprised them with news that they were one of four finalists, and videos were being made of just the finalists for the contest website.

One of the places the crew wanted to see was the company office. The Amundsens didn’t have one. So, in 24 hours, Lucie hurriedly turned a room in their home into an office, complete with furniture and company-related wall art.

“The scout spent very little time at the home office,” she says. “But that’s OK, because now we have an office.”

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