The Grand Rapids Business Journal 2014 Newsmakers of the Year gather for a group shot after accepting their awards. Photo by Johnny Quirin
A sold-out crowd watched this morning as the Grand Rapids Business Journal celebrated its Newsmakers of the Year at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Winners in 16 categories received individual accolades, and one — Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid — earned the top overall honor as 2014 Newsmaker of the Year.
The Rapid’s Silver Line service — the state’s first bus rapid transit — started in late summer, and Varga said it was the culmination of 10 years of very hard work.
“Public transit is good for business, and business is good for public transit,” he told a crowd of more than 400 business leaders. “This is shared with all our employees, because to anyone who has dealt with bureaucracy, you know how hard it was.”
The region’s leaders, decision makers and influencers — those who made the news — were honored for their efforts to help West Michigan grow.
The Newsmaker awards recognized people in 16 categories who made significant contributions to West Michigan during 2014.
The Newsmakers of the Year
Glenn Del Vecchio, Grand Rapids Ballet, Arts & Entertainment
Brett VanderKamp, New Holland Brewing Co., Beverages
Peter Varga, The Rapid/Silver Line, Economic Development
Richard Pappas, Davenport University, Education
Sandy Jelinski, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Finance
Jim Gordon, Gordon Food Service, Food
Roger Spoelman, Mercy Health, Health Care
Perrin Rynders, Varnum, Law
Rita Woodruff and Mary Gill-Thornton, Gill, Manufacturing
Diana Sieger, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Nonprofits
John Wheeler, Orion Construction, Real Estate/Construction
Earl Clements, Colliers International West Michigan/Centerpointe Mall, Retail
Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission/Art Van Sports Complex, Sports
Carolyn Yarina, Gillian Henker and Katherine Kirsch, Sisu Global Health, Startups
Dan Nally, Holland Board of Public Works, Sustainability
Robert Pero, Frontier Communications, Technology