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Business Journal selects Newsmaker nominees
The Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Newsmakers of the Year celebration is a popularity contest. But not in the way you might think.
When Business Journal reporters and editors met to discuss nominees for the 2018 Newsmaker of the Year honors, nearly 200 choices were considered before settling on the top three nominees in each of the following 16 categories: Arts & Entertainment, Beverages, Economic Development, Education, Finance, Food, Health Care, Law, Manufacturing, Nonprofits/Philanthropy, Real Estate/Construction, Retail, Sports, Startups, Sustainability and Technology.
In short, we are honoring the people who generated the most important news stories during 2018.
In turn, these people, projects, plans and products make West Michigan a popular place to do business.
See how that works?
Last year, Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, was honored for the more than $1 billion in investment in public spaces, new buildings and renovations on the books in and around Muskegon. Those efforts earned her the overall Newsmaker of the Year Award.
Most of this year’s nominees are familiar to West Michigan residents, especially those who read the Business Journal on a consistent basis, because they are the people who shaped local news in 2018.
The Business Journal will honor West Michigan’s top decision makers on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at its annual Newsmakers of the Year breakfast at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. Tickets for the event, which begins at 7:30 a.m., are available online.
The top selection from each category will be recognized with an industry Newsmaker award, and a Newsmaker of the Year will be selected from among the winners of those 16 categories.
The top Newsmaker in each category and the overall Newsmaker of the Year will be announced during the event.
A printed supplement profiling the nominees in each category will be included in the Jan. 28, 2019, issue of the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
For now, though, here is the first look at the finalists in each of the categories for Grand Rapids Business Journal 2018 Newsmaker of the Year.
Arts & Entertainment
Jori Bennett, ArtPrize
Rich MacKeigan, SMG
Tavian Napier, Western Michigan University
Brian Mucci and Brandon Joldersma, Coppercraft Distillery
Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers
Mark Sellers, HopCat
Dave Alexander, Downtown Muskegon Now
George Haga, Ada Township
Birgit Klohs, The Right Place
Thomas Haas, Grand Valley State University
Edward Montgomery, Western Michigan University
Dale Nesbary, Muskegon Community College
Jeff Helminski and Jack Kolodny, Auxo Investment Partners
Kelly Potes, ChoiceOne Bank
Tom Welch, Fifth Third Bank
Robert Schermer Jr., Meritage Hospitality Group
David Staples, SpartanNash
Rich Wolowski, Gordon Food Service
Robert Casalou, Trinity Health Michigan
Tina Freese Decker, Spectrum Health
Bill Hughson, Blue Sky Vision
Tania “Dee Dee” Fuller, Fuller Law and Counseling
Floyd Gates Jr., Bodman PLC
Deborah Hughes, Legal Assistance Center
Troy Comiskey, General Motors
Kevin Lobo, Stryker
Matt Missad, Universal Forest Products
Amy Acton, Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
Annemarie Valdez, First Steps Kent
Ryan VerWys, Inner City Christian Federation
Aaron Jonker and Curt Mulder, Wolverine Building Group
Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction
John Wheeler, Orion Construction
Chris Baker, Betten Baker Automotive Group
Rick Keyes, Meijer
Diane Maher, Fox Motors
Lew Chamberlin, West Michigan Whitecaps
Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission
Russ Hines, River Bank Events and Media
Tom Guarr and Jack Johnson, Jolt Energy
Mario Rodriguez-Garcia, Soldadera Coffee
Katarina Samardzija, Locker Lifestyle
Elissa Sangalli Hillary, Local First
John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks
John and Melissa Ziech, RecycleBoxBin
Brian DeMuth, GRIMM
Mark Johnson, Michigan Software Labs
Michael Rutherford, Rutherford & Associates