Foundation named Chamber "Organization of the Year"

More than 240 investors, business and municipal leaders, and guests were in attendance Wednesday at Chapin’s East Banquets in Minooka for the annual dinner hosted jointly by the Grundy Economic Development Council and the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Grundy County Chamber of Commerce AwardsChamber award 2015

Caroline Portlock, executive director, and Jill Behning, Chamber Board chairman, presented the Chamber awards. Portlock thanked everyone for helping to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the area and reminded the crowd that the recipients were nominated by other businesses.

Organization of the Year – Community Foundation of Grundy County

When you think Community Foundation, you probably think about an organization that brings together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities. The Community Foundation of Grundy County certainly fits this description – but they don’t stop there. They took a lead role in 941-HELP, a Grundy-specific information and referral system that gets the social services information into the hands of Grundy residents. Understanding that many local organizations do not have a national association to provide continuing education, the Community Foundation created “Non-Profit Tools for Success.” These monthly gatherings of nonprofits learn as peers by local teachers about a chosen topic. Other projects include an 8th Grade Career Fair, Grundy County Area Planners, Grundy Partnership for Children, and the Behavioral Health Alliance. The award recognizes its 15 years of “bridging people who care with causes that matter.

l to r: Chamber CEO Caroline Portlock, CFGC Trustee Kristi Bennington, CFGC CEO Julie Buck, CFGC President Ralph Wolter, CFGC Trustee Nancy Bjelland, CFGC Program Director Devan Gagliardo, CFGC Vice President Lorraine Davidson
l to r: Chamber CEO Caroline Portlock, CFGC Trustee Kristi Bennington, CFGC CEO Julie Buck, CFGC President Ralph Wolter, CFGC Trustee Nancy Bjelland, CFGC Program Director Devan Gagliardo, CFGC Vice President Lorraine Davidson

Business of the Year – Cyber Broadcasting

Cyber Broadcasting’s core business is in rural areas of Northern Illinois with a footprint throughout eight counties. It has been providing services since 1996. Owner Cesare Bratta credits its success to keeping an open mind about what services users may need. So when the Grundy County Housing Authority requested their assistance, Cesare and his team didn’t hesitate. In 2012, Cyber started utilizing mapping data to expand services to Housing Authorities in the region – resulting in reliable and affordable internet, television and telephone services to the residents. Their partnership with Connected Living has resulted in a big expansion for Cyber – doubling its size in the past few years, which led to hiring more full-time and part-time employees.

Entrepreneurs of the Year – David and John Bankowski, owners of Brothers Country Supply

When David and John Bankowski started delivering horse supplies to local farms and stables, Brothers Country Supply began. They grew the business into a storefront in Ottawa that carried a variety livestock and pet supplies and just over two years ago, their business expanded again when they opened their second location in Morris. They will continue expanding with the opening of their third store in Oswego later this year. David and John have a strong commitment to the communities they serve, supporting local animal shelters with products, services and space for fundraisers. In addition, they provide food for all area K-9 Units, which includes Grundy, LaSalle and Kendall counties.

Chamber & GEDC award recipients
Chamber & GEDC award recipients

Community Service Award – ExxonMobil

Research shows that youngsters who go on to pursue technical careers begin that quest for knowledge in their earliest school years. ExxonMobil decided to act on this research and, in 2007, started Shoot for A’s – an annual event that grants funds to math and science teachers of sixth, seventh and eighth-graders. To date, nearly $500,000 has been raised and allocated through this event. ExxonMobil employees volunteer hundreds of hours to help execute this annual event. The award recognizes the impact they have made in the region.

Ambassador of the Year – Tamela Partridge, Partridge Publications.

Chamber Ambassadors serve as liaisons between Chamber members and staff. Many Ambassadors find their participation in this group to be an invaluable tool for making contacts throughout the business community. Tamela Partridge, owner of Partridge Publications, enjoys meeting new people and learning new things. She also loves any opportunity to help others.

GEDC awards

GEDC CEO Nancy Norton Ammer and Jason Wiesbrock, GEDC chairman, presented the GEDC’s three awards. Ammer said $500 million of new project investments happening in Grundy County and 13 months of decreasing unemployment are signs that Grundy County is back stronger than ever.

Welcome to Grundy County Award – Metalstamp

Metalstamp recently celebrated 30 years of business and this family-owned business continues to support “Made in the USA” manufacturing with its new facility that opened last summer in Minooka, according to the release. Metalstamp’s tool and die and high speed punch press operations serve the automotive, electronic, and medical fields. Owners Lee and Kathy Hutchinson and their son Ben, wasted no time getting involved in Grundy County and will be sponsoring an intern in the summer program.

CFGC VP Lorraine Davidson and husband Jerry
CFGC VP Lorraine Davidson and husband Jerry

Partnership Award – Grundy County Internship Program

The education and business communities came together with the support of state Sen. Sue Rezin and the GEDC to start a summer internship program. The Grundy County summer internship program was founded three years ago. Starting with seven students and three companies, the program has grown three-fold to 10 companies and 30 internships. Lance Copes, director of the Grundy Area Vocational Center, accepted the award on behalf of all the partners.

Business of the Year – Morris Hospital

Receiving its first patient in 1906, Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers has grown to six locations and more than 1,100 employees. Last year the hospital added 80 new staff, recruited 11 new physicians, and anticipates growing by another 10 percent in 2015. Hospital employees support local nonprofits and the hospital is the largest employer in our community. The hospital was congratulated for its ability as a business to grow, adapt and excel in the changing world that is healthcare.