Business Journal names Newsmaker nominees


Some names on this list may be more recognizable than others, but they all share one common trait — all with good reason: Each of them is a nominee for the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Newsmaker of the Year honors.

The Journal will honor West Michigan’s top decision makers on Wednesday, Jan. 25 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.

Business Journal editors and reporters sifted through nearly 200 choices before settling on the top 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.

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.

Last year, David Hooker, CEO of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, took home the top honor.

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. 23, 2017 issue of the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

2016 Newsmaker of the Year finalists

Arts & Entertainment

Joseph Calvaruso, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Greg Gilmore, 20 Monroe Live

Rich MacKeigan, SMG


Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing Co.

John VanTongeren, Ferris Coffee & Nut

Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers

Economic Development

Craig Hall and Jennifer Owens, Holland SmartZone

Julius Suchy, Village of Sparta

Ryan Cotton, Downtown Holland


Jonathan Engelsma, Grand Valley State University

Teresa Weatherall Neal, Grand Rapids Public Schools

John Knapp, Hope College


Jason Wenk, FormulaFolio Investments

David Ramaker, Chemical Bank

Martin Stein, Blackford Capital


Phil Grashoff, Southwest & West Michigan Agribusiness Alliance

Steve Soet, Kent Quality Foods

Cliff Meeuwsen, Zeeland Farm Services

Health Care

Greg Loomis, Mercy Health Muskegon

Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Michael Faas and Marschall Runge, Metro Health and University of Michigan Health System


Mark Miller, Cascade Engineering

Heidi Washington, Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility Vocational Village

Christine Gilman, Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan


Cedric Duclos, Hutchinson North American Innovation Center

Rich Sorota, Ranir

Matthew Missad, Universal Forest Products Inc.


Jorge Gonzalez, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Peter Secchia and Richard DeVos, Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center

Carla Blinkhorn, YWCA

Real Estate/Construction

John Wheeler, Orion Construction

Sam Cummings, CWD Real Estate Investment

Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction


Scott Wierda, CWD Real Estate Investment

Rick Keyes, Meijer Inc.

Dennis Eidson, SpartanNash Co.


Maria Besta, Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program

Dan DeVos, Edge Ice Arena

Lesley Baker, Meijer LPGA Classic


Danny Vessells, Fathom

Sara Moylan, Shefit

Mark Gurney, Tetra Discovery Partners


Dan Schoonmaker, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

Kris and Jason Spaulding, Brewery Vivant

Peter Secchia, Millennium Park


Meredith Bronk, Open Systems Technologies

Adam Kramer, Switch

Garry VonMyhr, Genius Phone Repair

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