With 2019 about to slip into the rearview mirror, it’s time to reflect on the people and events that shaped West Michigan during the past 12 months.
The Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year event is Jan. 29 at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Tickets for the event, which begins at 7:30 a.m., are available online.
This year, the Journal’s reporters and editors met to discuss almost 250 potential nominees for the honor, finally agreeing on three finalists 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.
A winner from the three finalists in each of the 16 categories will be revealed at the event, followed by the announcement of the overall 2019 Newsmaker of the Year Award.
The people who made news in 2019 make for an impressive list of leading figures in the business community.
Last year, Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health, was honored for a bevy of acquisitions and new construction that grew the health system to more than 40 locations, 450 providers and 31,000 employees. Leading 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 2019.
A printed supplement profiling the finalists in each category will be included in the Jan. 27 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 2019 Newsmaker of the Year.
Arts & Entertainment
Beth Beaman, The Playhouse at White Lake
Hannah Berry, Lions & Rabbits/Rad American Women
J.D. Loeks, Celebration Cinema
Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers
Jason and Kris Spaulding, Brewery Vivant/Broad Leaf
Brett VanderKamp, New Holland Spirits
Chuck Geenen and Doug DeKock, Geenen DeKock Properties
Brian Picardat, Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Richard Winn, AHC+Hospitality
Edward Montgomery, Western Michigan University
Bill Pink, Grand Rapids Community College
Richard Pappas, Davenport University
Krista Flynn, TCF Bank/Chemical Bank
Eric Foster, Rende Progress Capital
Kelly Potes, ChoiceOne Bank
Steve Cahillane, Kellogg Co.
Dr. Andrew Maternowski and Dr. Monica Randles, Nutcase Vegan Meats
Mike McDonald, Dr. John’s Healthy Sweets
Robert Casalou, Trinity Health Michigan/Mercy Health
Mark Eastburg, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Peter Hahn, Metro Health-University of Michigan Health
Richard Hillary, Miller Johnson
Ryan Leestma, ISI/Leestma Management
James McGrath, WMU Thomas M. Cooley Law School
John Kennedy IV, Autocam Medical/AMP Lab
Murray Kessler, Perrigo
Kevin Lobo, Stryker
Jeremy DeRoo, LINC UP
Timothy Hileman, Special Olympics Michigan
Bridget Clark Whitney, Kids’ Food Basket
Tim Schowalter, Pioneer Construction
Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction
John Wheeler, Wheeler Development Group (formerly ORES)
Brooke Lavender, The Donut Conspiracy
Cecily McCabe, Woodland Mall/PREIT
Scott Wierda, CWD Real Estate Investment/Breton Village
Steve Jbara, Grand Rapids Drive
Mike McCall, Muskegon Lumberjacks
Adam Stio, Battle Creek Rumble Bees
Amanda Chocko, Lakeshore Advantage/SURGE
Jorge Gonzalez, Start Garden/100 Ideas
Scott Hill, Varnum/MiSpringboard
Dwayne Behrens and Brian Spicer, Innovakote
Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction/Circuit West
Rich Wolowski, Gordon Food Service/Square Roots
Jake Blough, Service Express/On Deck
Michael Cotter, Feyen Zylstra
Garry VonMyhr, Tech Defenders