The 27th annual Minority Business Celebration

October 10, 2008
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The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce is recognizing area minority businesses and their importance to the community with its 2008 Minority Business Celebration awards dinner. While the event changed from a luncheon to a dinner only a few years ago, this marks the 27th year of the awards.

The Oct. 14 event will honor the winners of three awards: Carl Wiseman, Minority Business of the Year; Dick Ortega, Minority Entrepreneur of the Year; and Floriza Genautis, Minority Business Advocate of the Year.

“I think it’s important not just to see regular businesses, but minority businesses as thriving enterprises,” said Meshia Williams, programs and events coordinator with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “Minority businesses don’t always get the opportunity to shine in that particular spotlight, so it’s very important that the community at large be able to see them and interact with them as well.”

Williams said minority-owned businesses are among the fastest growing businesses in the country and it’s important that the region have a supportive community to help attract and retain a diverse work force.

“It’s important for the city to be known as a welcoming and inclusive community — not just a place that’s developing businesses and you come in and fit in where you fit in,” said Williams. “The more minorities that we can place in different corporations (and) the more minorities are seen as business owners, the more we can attract young talent and feel like a community where anyone can thrive … and that goes a long way in attracting and retaining young talent.”

Each of the recipients was chosen by a volunteer panel made up of seven impartial chamber members who are involved with the chamber at varying levels.

Meshia Williams commented on each of the recipients and what helped them stand out among their peers:

Carl Wiseman, Wiseman LLC/Management, Minority Business of the Year:

“One of the things that brought Carl Wiseman to the top of his list is his ability to show a progressive business plan. He’s been able to acquire business and keep them running and win numerous awards for their employee interaction and customer value.”

Floriza Genautis, Management Business Solutions, Advocate of the Year:

“Floriza Genautis has a long history of advocacy, not just for individual business, but for people — minority business owners and minority business professionals, as well. Rather than this particular award this year going to a corporation or someone within a corporation, Floriza is a part of a small business, but her outreach and her advocacy reaches into the majority-owned companies as well as individually owned businesses.”

Dick Ortega, Alternative Mechanical, Minority Entrepreneur of the Year:

“One of the things that the selection committee was impressed with was his ability to offer 100 percent employee health care benefits. It’s really important to his employees and speaks volumes about him as a business owner and entrepreneur. Dick just has a fire about him for the minority business community.”

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