Business Journal names 2021 Newsmakers of the Year

2048
Gun Lake Casino Assistant General Manager Carter Pavey accepts the award for the Business Journal's 2021 Newsmaker of the Year on behalf of Sal Semola, president and CEO of Gun Lake Casino. Photo by Michael Buck

West Michigan’s most resilient business leaders were honored at the first in-person Newsmaker of the Year Awards since the beginning of the pandemic. But in the end, there can be only one.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal named Gun Lake Casino President Sal Semola the 2021 Newsmaker of Year at its annual award ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

In 2021, Gun Lake Casino became the name-in-title sponsor for then-20 Monroe Live and renamed the venue GLC Live at 20 Monroe. The casino also launched an online casino platform called Play Gun Lake and completed its $300 million expansion project that provides more entertainment and dining options for visitors.

Carter Pavey, assistant general manager for Gun Lake Casino, who accepted the award on behalf of Semola, said the casino would not be possible without the community.

“We utilize a lot of our local vendors to work at the casino,” he said. “We have a partnership with Wise Men (Distillery). We have worked with Revolution Farms. We work with a lot of community members to help make the casino possible. We provide jobs for community members to utilize their resources and other businesses, so, on behalf of Sal, the Gun Lake Tribe and the entire casino team, thank you guys so much. We appreciate it.”

Semola, who also was the winner for the arts and entertainment category, was among 16 winners in the respective categories, which included beverages, economic development, education, finance, food, health care, law, manufacturing, nonprofits/philanthropy, real estate/construction, retail, sports, startups, sustainability and technology.

Winners for each newsmaker category

Arts/entertainment: Sal Semola, Gun Lake Casino

Beverages: Nadia and Shatawn Brigham, GRNoir Wine & Jazz

Economic development: Randy Thelen, The Right Place

Education: Richard Pappas, Davenport University

Finance: Eric Foster, Rende Progress Capital

Food: Alita Kelly and Khara DeWit, South East Market

Health care: Nathan Baar, HealthBar

Law: Stephen van Stempvoort, Miller Johnson

Manufacturing: Andi Owen, MillerKnoll

Nonprofits/philanthropy: Ryan VerWys, Inner City Christian Federation

Real estate/construction: Tim Schowalter, Pioneer Construction

Retail: Tony Sarsam, SpartanNash

Sports: Steve Jbara, Grand Rapids Gold

Startups: Jeff Lambert, TiiCKER

Sustainability: Janay Brower and Lisa Knight, Public Thread

Technology: Ashlea Souffrou, SxanPro

Facebook Comments