HANCOCK — Kevin Manninen has made Finnish-American culture his business, literally. He’s the president of the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce U.P. Chapter, the dean of Finlandia University’s International School of Business, and a leader in the recently-founded FinnZone, which helps businesses from Finland make inroads into the U.S. with Hancock as their starting point.
And now, he’s also Hankookin Heikki.
Manninen, an Atlantic Mine native, was announced as the recipient of the Finnish Theme Committee’s annual honor at the Finnish Independence Day celebration December 6 at the Finnish American Heritage Center. His first “official” duty as Hankookin Heikki will be to preside over the Heikinpäivä festival parade on Saturday, January 26.
The honor of Hankookin Heikki is bestowed annually by the City of Hancock’s Finnish Theme Committee, which has hosted the Heikinpäivä Midwinter Festival each January for the past 20 years. The award is given each year a person who has exhibited extraordinary effort toward preservation and promotion of Finnish culture in the Copper Country and beyond.
Manninen’s work to preserve Finnish culture certainly goes “beyond.” Before returning to the Copper Country about a decade ago, he lived and worked for 15 years in Finland, working primarily as a lecturer in international business and marketing for the International Business Program at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä. While in Finland, he also met and married his wife Liisa. His Copper Country roots run deep, though; he’s the grandson of Finnish immigrant copper miners.
For further information about the Finnish Theme Committee or the Heikinpäivä festival, call (906) 487-7549.