West Michigan may be battling a talent shortage, but it’s not at the upper levels.
When Grand Rapids Business Journal reporters and editors met to discuss nominees for the 2017 Newsmaker of the Year honors, more than 225 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.
Last year, Adam Kramer, executive vice president of strategy for Switch, the massive technology firm and data center currently making its home in the former Steelcase Pyramid building in Gaines Township south of Grand Rapids, was the overall winner.
Most of the 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 2017.
The Business Journal will honor West Michigan’s top decision makers on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 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. 29, 2018 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 2017 Newsmaker of the Year.
2017 Newsmaker of the Year finalists
Arts & Entertainment
David Hooker, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Rich MacKeigan, SMG
Scott Sprague, Gun Lake Casino
Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing Co.
Daryn Kuipers, Boxed Water
Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers
Dick DeVos, Grand Action
James Gill, Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Cindy Larsen, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
Betsy DeVos, U.S. Department of Education
Thomas Haas, Grand Valley State University
Kevin Quinn, Aquinas College
Stephen Duarte, Kent County
Sandra Jelinski, Lake Michigan Credit Union
David Quade, Horizon Bank
Steve Cooper, Continental Dairy
Herb Herbruck, Herbruck’s Poultry
Rich Wolowski, Gordon Food Service
Norman Beauchamp Jr., MSU Grand Rapids Research Center
Mark Eastburg, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Kevin Lobo, Stryker Corp.
Matt Fenske, Ottawa County
Kevin Lobo, Stryker Corp.
James Saalfeld, Kent County
Marc Bitzer, Whirlpool Corp.
James Keane, Steelcase Inc.
Kevin Prindable, GE Aviation
Jon Ippel, Amplify GR
Scott Jonkhoff, Next Step
Ryan VerWys, Inner City Christian Federation
Adam Kramer, Switch
Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction
John Wheeler, Orion Construction
Hank Meijer, Meijer Inc.
Phil Russo, Russo’s International Market
Robert Schermer Jr., Meritage Hospitality Group
Dan DeVos, Grand Rapids Griffins
Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission
Steve Jbara, Grand Rapids Drive
Bob Baltera, Cirius Therapeutics
Julie Burrell, Pumpndo
Feliciano Paredes, AgHelp
Dave Koster, Holland Energy Plant
Jason Meyer, Blandford Nature Center
Mike VanGessel, Circuit West
Dan Irvin, 123Net
John Keller, Metro Health-University of Michigan Health
David Van Andel, Van Andel Research Institute