For Immediate Release (5/19/14)

Winona, MN They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) has taken that first step towards a healthier team with their “Healthy by Choice” wellness initiative that focuses on healthy lifestyles for their employees.  And, they are getting some help from Winona State University and Winona Health.

“Health and wellness is in the spotlight from the national level all the way down to each and every individual.  We want to do our part to help our employees and their families live life to the fullest by providing access to diet and fitness tools, as well as encouraging healthy behaviors.” Said Dan Pecarina, President and CEO.

To support this initiative, HBC has created a Wellness Team, comprised of 12 energetic staff members.  The team is charged with creating fitness-focused events, making informational articles, tools, and recipes easily accessible, and finding ways to incent and encourage those who are attempting to make healthful lifestyle choices.  “We are not experts, but we do strive to find out what is on the minds of our co-workers, and reach out to the experts to seek answers, suggestions and solutions for leading a more balanced life,” said Gretchen Van Valen, a member of the wellness team.

The HBC team has partnered with the Winona State University Health, Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences Department, to give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience building programs and presentations.  “The HERS department is excited to be working with the employees of HBC.” Said Connie Mettille, Assistant Professor in the Health, Exercise, and Rehabilitative Sciences department.  “Healthy employees make for a healthier community.” 

A partnership with Winona Health was also sought and formed.  Biometric screenings including blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure checks, were set up with HBC employees, to discover where the current strengths and weaknesses exist.  From the results, the HBC and WSU teams will be able to tailor the educational and activity based opportunities to really make an impact on the workforce in general. 

“Workplace wellness is not just about reducing insurance premiums or increasing productivity.  It is about improving our team members’ overall frame of mind and wellbeing.  Making sure employees know HBC cares more about them than just the work they are able to produce.”  Said Brandon McQuinn, HBC human resources generalist.

Hiawatha Broadband Communications Inc. (HBC) is a southeastern Minnesota telecommunications service provider. The company delivers Video, Internet and Phone services to a customer base that numbers more than 12,000.

HBC’s roots are in a non-profit project begun in 1993, called Luminet. Luminet connected Winona education, healthcare and government institutions to extend the reach of teaching and learning. In 1997, the success of Luminet led to the formation of Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. Today, HBC operates in 17 communities with 40 percent of its stock owned by non-profit entities.

For additional information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Gretchen Van Valen at (507) 474-5863 or