Members honored at Chamber dinner

Polly VonEschen accepts the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Retailer of the Year Award for her store, Baskets in the Belfry.

Polly VonEschen accepts the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Retailer of the Year Award for her store, Baskets in the Belfry.

Rockford Chamber of Commerce members and guests met for a gala evening of honors and dining on Friday, January 29, at the Chamber’s annual meeting and awards ceremony.

The guest speaker was Dan Gaydou, publisher of the Grand Rapids Press and a Rockford resident.

Gaydou offered what he called “a brief synopsis of a serious topic” and spoke of the current conditions in Michigan.

“Facing reality, we have to admit we are in terrible shape in Michigan,” he said. On any list of economic vibrancy, the state ranks low, yet Michigan has a lot going for it. Michigan is the second highest boating state, has very giving residents, and is rich in innovation and new technology.

“I see a lot of things going on that are good, but I do believe our political system is broken,” he stated. “We have to get back to the business of people finding jobs.”

Gaydou said our state’s industrial revolution has become a technical revolution and the days of low tech, high-pay jobs are gone. “We can’t live in denial. We have to start to learn to compete in this environment. I’m sick and tired of hearing that our kids are not as smart as the kids in Japan, Europe, India, China. Our urban school districts are failing our children.”

Gaydou said entrepreneurship is the heart of development in this area, and that small business may be the future of the economy. He mentioned changes at the Press, symptomatic of changes in the state, saying it is “going through a tremendous amount of upheaval.”

Last year’s winner of the Service Award, Action Tax and Money Concepts’ Jerry Coon hands out this year’s award to Blaine Kellermeier of Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc.

Last year’s winner of the Service Award, Action Tax and Money Concepts’ Jerry Coon hands out this year’s award to Blaine Kellermeier of Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc.

“Is it going to be fine? Yes. Is it easy? No.” Gaydou said. With 60 legislators to be term-limited out, Gaydou said, “Half the elected officials in the state could be new people. Change is up to me and you.”

Gaydou’s speech was followed by board member elections, the year in review and the Business of Distinctions awards. Nominated in the Quality of Life Category were Herremans and Bosscher Orthodontics; Huntington National Bank and Wolverine World Wide YMCA.

Nominated in the New Business Category were Double Take Resale, LLC and Nance-Martin Accounting Service.

Char Bouwkamp  receives the evening’s top award, Business of the Year, for D&W Fresh Market, for the company’s long standing in Rockford and generous support of community events.

Char Bouwkamp receives the evening’s top award, Business of the Year, for D&W Fresh Market, for the company’s long standing in Rockford and generous support of community events.

Nominated in the Retail Category were Baskets in the Belfry; Gild the Lily, LLC; Kimberly’s Boutique and Pegasus Sports. In the Service Category nominees were Brieden Orthodontics; ChiroHealth Rockford; Hyer Luv Kennel & Groomers; Independent Bank Rockford; Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc.; United Bank of Michigan; and Young Insurance. In the Construction Category were DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen and Morris Builders, Inc.

In the Dining/Entertainment Category were Reds on the River; Rogue River Tavern; The Corner Bar and Timbers Inn Restaurant and Tavern.

The most prestigious category of Business of the Year nominees were CARSTAR of Rockford; D & W Fresh Market; Herman’s Boy, Inc. and Rockford Ambulance.

Winner of the Quality of Life Category was Wolverine World Wide YMCA. In the New Business Category, Nance-Martin Accounting Service took top honors. In Retail, Baskets in the Belfry won. In Service, Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc. took top honors. For Construction, Morris Builders, Inc. won. In Dining, Reds on the River was first and the highest honor of the evening went to D&W Fresh Market with Business of the Year.

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