As we put 2021 to bed, there is one more piece of business to undertake.
The Grand Rapids Business Journal has selected the finalists for its 2021 Newsmaker of the Year awards. The 48 finalists in 16 categories will be celebrated on Jan. 26 during a breakfast event at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The Newsmaker show represents the first event in the Business Journal’s new Breakfast Series lineup, which will focus on what’s happening in the West Michigan business community and feature guest speakers and participants from various local industries. Ticket information is available here.
This year, the Journal’s reporters and editors met to discuss almost 200 potential nominees for the honor, finally agreeing on three finalists 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.
A winner from the three finalists in each of the 16 categories will be revealed at the event, followed by the announcement of the overall 2021 Newsmaker of the Year Award.
The people who made news in 2021 make for an impressive list of leading figures in the business community.
Last year, Chef Jenna Arcidiacono, co-owner and executive chef of Amore Trattoria Italiana, was honored for her generosity, leadership and advocacy for the restaurant industry during its worst year in living memory. That drive and passion for her customers, employees, fellow business owners and hundreds of frontline workers in West Michigan earned her the overall Newsmaker of the Year Award.
Most of this year’s nominees are familiar to West Michigan residents, especially those who follow the Business Journal on a consistent basis, because they are the people who shaped local news in 2021.
A printed supplement profiling the finalists in each category will be included in the Jan. 24 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 2021 Newsmaker of the Year.
Cynthia Hagedorn, The Property
David Hooker, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Sal Semola, Gun Lake Casino
Larry Bell, Bell’s Brewery
Nadia and Shatawn Brigham, GRNoir Wine & Jazz
Tom Borisch, Jason Post and Zack Van Dyke, Wise Men Distillery
Ed Garner, Michigan Small Business Development Center West Michigan Region
Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage
Randy Thelen, The Right Place
Patricia Harris, Kuyper College
Philomena Mantella, Grand Valley State University
Richard Pappas, Davenport University
Eric Foster, Rende Progress Capital
Martin Stein, Blackford Capital
Renee Tabben, Bank of America
Andrea Bumstead, Gaia House Cafe
Alita Kelly and Khara DeWit, South East Market
Rich Wolowski, Gordon Food Service/Square Roots
Nathan Baar, HealthBar
Tina Freese Decker, Spectrum Health
Peter Hahn, University of Michigan Health-West
Tracey Brame, Cooley Law/Innocence Project
Judge Amanda Sterkenburg, 62-B District Court Kentwood
Stephen van Stempvoort, Miller Johnson
Jim Dillard, Perrigo
Mike Larsson, Dematic
Andi Owen, MillerKnoll
Wendy Falb, Literacy Center of West Michigan
Carly MacDonald, Michigan Veteran Homes at Grand Rapids
Ryan VerWys, Inner City Christian Federation
Mike Novakoski, EV Construction
Tim Schowalter, Pioneer Construction
Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction
John Green, Revolution Farms
Eion Jackson, Eion Jackson Apparel
Tony Sarsam, SpartanNash
Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission
Steve Jbara, Grand Rapids Gold
David Marquardt, Indian Trails Golf Course (Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation)
Sarah Laman and Arick Davis, Last Mile Cafe
Jeff Lambert, TiiCKER
Kevin McLeod, C2Dx
Luis Chen Aguilera, Wormies
Janay Brower and Lisa Knight, Public Thread
Chad Howell, Forever Great
Ashlea Souffrou, SxanPro
John Sorensen, Student Achievement Systems/Pulse
Jeff Boore, Anjoy