Newsmakers of the Year breakfast event, January 30

Company Profile

GRBJ Newsmakers 2018


The Grand Rapids Business Journal reporting team recently determined the top business news stories of 2018 — and the people behind the headlines. On January 30, 2019, GRBJ will host a breakfast event and award 16 "Newsmakers" from the categories shown below.

Here are the 2018 Newsmaker of the Year finalists, as selected by the GRBJ news/reporting team: 

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

Economic Development 
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

Health Care 
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

Real Estate/Construction 
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

On January 30, the top selection from each category will be recognized with an industry Newsmaker award, and the overall Newsmaker of the Year will be selected from among the winners of those 16 industry categories.

Join us for breakfast, networking, and a celebration of the year in business news!

Program Timeline
7:30 - 8:30am
Registration opens; breakfast and networking

8:30 - 9:30am
Awards presentation


Breakfast awards and networking event:
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Free parking available. 
More details

Order now


Contact for sponsorship information.


Sponsored by:


Consumers Energy                Wolverine Building Group             Applause Catering + Events

                                 Colliers               616 Media       


Floral Sponsor:

                                                         Eastern Floral      

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