Grand Rapids Chamber honors EPIC award winners

Pure Architects was named Small Business of the Year at the 2021 EPIC Awards. Courtesy Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce honored the recipients of its 11th annual EPIC Awards on Monday evening.

The Grand Rapids Chamber on Monday, Oct. 25, held an in-person EPIC Awards Gala at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids where over 400 community leaders, corporations and small business professionals came together to honor individuals and organizations that are “entrepreneurial, progressive, innovative and collaborative,” or EPIC.

Each category in the awards program recognizes those who are leading in growth and innovation, strengthening the business community, enabling collaboration and connections, and accomplishing “incredible endeavors with a focus on the future.”

“These are the businesses and organizations that are making Grand Rapids a destination — a great place to live, work and thrive,” said Dante Villarreal, vice president of business and talent development for the Grand Rapids Chamber. “New to EPIC this year, we are also celebrating three diversity-focused recognitions, honoring those who help make our community more welcoming, inclusive and affirming. It speaks volumes to the evolving business community in Grand Rapids.”

This year, over 120 nominations were submitted for consideration. After the selection committee comprised of Grand Rapids business leaders studied the nominees’ newest initiatives, collaborative efforts, impact in the community and philanthropic vision, 31 finalists were announced in September, and the recipients were honored Monday night.

“Local business leaders and organizations deserve some special recognition after the difficulties of this past year,” said, Mark Allen, director of business services at the chamber. “This event was more than an awards ceremony. It was a celebration, a reunion and a tipping point where our members looked back to say, ‘We made it.’”

The recipients

  • Small Business of the Year: Pure Architects
  • Nonprofit of the Year: Comprehensive Therapy Center
  • Creative Business of the Year: Grand Rapids Ballet
  • Minority-Owned Business of the Year: La Fuente Consulting
  • Veteran-Owned Business of the Year: Wimage
  • Woman-Owned Business of the Year: Gold Coast Doulas
  • Emerging Leader of the Year: Sylvia Nyamuhungu
  • DEI Champion Recognition — Leader of the Year: Jessa Challa
  • DEI Champion Recognition — Organization of the Year: OST
  • LGBTQIA+ Champion Recognition — Organization of the Year: Camp Blodgett
  • Excellence in Business: Autocam Medical

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