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Business Journal names Newsmaker nominees

December 11, 2014
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Business Journal names Newsmaker nominees
The Newsmakers of the Year awards breakfast will be on Jan. 28 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The more, the merrier, right?

The Grand Rapids Business Journal has expanded its Newsmakers of the Year awards for 2014, adding several new categories that reflect continued economic expansion.

This year’s honorees, who are the people behind the headlines that shaped West Michigan over the past 12 months, represent this growing region.

A couple of tweaks and a few additions resulted in 16 categories for this year’s Newsmakers of the Year, with 54 nominees vying for top honors. The top selection in each category will be recognized with an industry Newsmaker award — and from those 16, The Newsmaker of the Year will be selected.

The Business Journal reporters and editors have completed their vetting process and agreed on the nominees in each of the following categories: Manufacturing, Real Estate/Construction, Retail, Health Care, Law, Technology, Arts & Entertainment, Sports, Nonprofits, Economic Development, Education, Finance, Food, Beverages, Sustainability and Startups.

Last year, Derek Coppess of 616 Development in Grand Rapids took home The Newsmaker of the Year award.

“These individuals invested in community and economic development throughout 2014 and contributed in big ways to the excitement and progress of this city and region,” said Carole Valade, editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal.

The Business Journal will celebrate all of the nominees and their accomplishments during an awards breakfast, beginning at 7 a.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The top Newsmaker in each category and the overall Newsmaker of the Year will be revealed at that time. Tickets to the event are $30.

2014 Newsmaker of the Year finalists


Jim Staargaard, Plasan Carbon Composites

Brent Willis, Electronic Cigarette International Group

Rita Woodruff/Mary Gill-Thornton, Gill Industries

Real Estate/Construction

Duke Suwyn, Colliers International West Michigan

Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction

John Wheeler, Orion Construction/Real Estate Solutions


Earl Clements, Colliers (Centerpointe Mall)

Doug Meijer/Hank Meijer, Meijer

Scott Miedema, Miedema Auctions

Health Care

Steve Davidson, Agility Health

Marsha Rappley, MSU College of Human Medicine

Roger Spoelman, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s


Ed Bardelli, Warner Norcross

Jeffrey O’Hara, 63rd District Court

Perrin Rynders, Varnum


Meredith Bronk, Open Systems Technologies

Keith Brophy, Ideomed

Robert Pero, Frontier Communications

Arts & Entertainment

Glenn Del Vecchio, Grand Rapids Ballet (“Nutcracker”)

Rick DeVos, ArtPrize

Kris Larson, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (Movies in the Park)


Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission (Art Van Sports Complex)

Steve Jbara, Grand Rapids Drive

J.K. Symancyk, Meijer LPGA Classic


Darel Ross, LINC Community Revitalization

Diana Sieger, Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Peter Wege, The Wege Foundation

Economic Development

Birgit Klohs, The Right Place

Chris Muller/Chip Richards, Restore the Rapids

Peter Varga, The Rapid (Silver Line)


John Dunn, Western Michigan University

Steven Ender, Grand Rapids Community College

Richard Pappas, Davenport University


Laurie Beard, Founders Bank & Trust

Sandy Jelinski, Lake Michigan Credit Union

Michael Price, Mercantile Bank


Jim Gordon, Gordon Food Service

Cliff Meeuwsen, Zeeland Farm Services

Craig Smith, RedWater Restaurant Group


Chris Andrus/Max Trierweiler, Mitten Brewing Co.

Mark Sellers, BarFly (HopCat)

Brett VanderKamp, New Holland Brewing Co.


George Heartwell, Grand Rapids Solar Park

Dan Nally, Holland Board of Public Works

Kris Spaulding, Brewery Vivant


Gillian Henker/Carolyn Yarina/Katherine Kirsch, Sisu Global Health

Justin Herd, OneBowl

John Sorenson, Vestaron

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