Human Resources

Business Journal's Newsmaker nominees shape West Michigan

December 9, 2013
Text Size:

Who made news in West Michigan this year?

The answer, obviously, is that a lot of people made the news. But who really shaped the region’s future? Who stepped up and did something in his or her industry that was truly noteworthy?

The answers to those questions can be found in the nominees for the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s annual Newsmaker of the Year Award.

Only this time, it’s awards. As in plural.

The Business Journal is rolling out a whole new format for its annual recognition that includes not just one winner, but a dozen that are spread out over 10 categories. The winner in each category will be recognized as an industry Newsmaker, and from those 10 winners, a Newsmaker of the Year will be selected. The twelfth honor is called the Impact Award and goes to the person or project selected by our Editorial Department to have demonstrated the most potential for long-term economic impact in the region.

The winners are based on Business Journal reporting and industry-specific accomplishments.

“The Business Journal recognizes there are many contributors to the strength of the regional economy and recognizes them in industry-specific categories,” said Carole Valade, editor of the Business Journal. “This is always a laborious task, but important as the region continues to grow. This is not a popularity contest, but recognition of industry talent and regional success.”

The Editorial Department has completed its vetting process and agreed on three nominees in each of the following categories: Manufacturing, Real Estate and Development, Retail, Health Care, Law, Technology, Sports/Arts & Entertainment, Nonprofits/Philanthropy, Government and Education. Ten people who helped improve West Michigan with their projects, leadership, innovation and ideas will emerge from these 30 nominees as Newsmaker winners, and one of those will be recognized as Newsmaker of the Year.

The Business Journal will celebrate all of the nominees and their accomplishments during a breakfast meeting, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Tickets to the event are $30.

2013 Newsmaker of the Year nominees


Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide

Joseph Papa, Perrigo

John Sammut, Firstronic

Real Estate and Development

Derek Coppess, 616 Development

Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction

John Wheeler, Orion Construction


Dick DeVos, Regional Air Alliance West Michigan/Southwest Airlines

Dennis Eidson, SpartanNash

Dave Engbers/Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing

Health Care

Rick Breon, Spectrum Health

Mike Faas, Metro Health

Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed


Tom Kyros, Varnum Law

Don LeDuc, Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Ric Roane, Warner Norcross and Judd


Dan Behm, Open Systems Technologies

Aaron Schaap, The Factory

Ryan Vaughn, Varsity News Network

Sports/Arts & Entertainment

Bryan Baar, Elite Baseball/Softball Training

Dan DeVos, Grand Rapids Griffins

Rick DeVos, ArtPrize


Elissa Hillary, Local First

Bridget Clark Whitney, Kids’ Food Basket

Wendy Wigger, Gilda’s Club/LaughFest


Brian Harris, Downtown Development Authority

Birgit Klohs, The Right Place

Kara Wood, Economic Development Authority/Brownfield Redevelopment Authority


David Eisler, Ferris State University/Kendall College of Art and Design/UICA

Thomas Haas, Grand Valley State University

Robert Landeros, Western Michigan University/Starting Gate

Recent Articles by Tim Gortsema

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus