West Michigan To Host EOY Awards

    GRAND RAPIDS — Businesses in the western half of the Lower Peninsula, from Mackinaw City south to the state line, will see their own annual Ernst & Young Michigan Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) awards program in 2002.

    The international annual awards program, established by Ernst & Young in 1986, honors entrepreneurs’ ingenuity, hard work and perseverance in starting and growing successful businesses.

    Next year, Ernst & Young, along with several West Michigan sponsors, will stage a Michigan EOY awards ceremony in downtown Grand Rapids. That will be in addition to the EOY awards ceremony traditionally held in Dearborn.

    Announcing the program change Thursday, Keith Burns, managing partner of the company’s West Michigan practice, said, “There are likely very few areas in the country where the entrepreneur is held in more esteem than the greater West Michigan community.”

    In addition to Ernst & Young, area sponsors are National City Bank, Miller Johnson Snell and Cummiskey, Marsh Inc. and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

    According to Business Journal Editor Carole Valade Copenhaver, staging the annual event in Grand Rapids in addition to Detroit is just one more way of recognizing that West Michigan holds national rank in the number of new businesses started each year.

    “It recognizes the diligence of West Michigan entrepreneurs and focuses a national spotlight on their efforts. Their efforts are the sum total of our economy.”

    Matt Wey, senior vice president of Marsh Inc., said his company is “delighted” to support a program that recognizes talented individuals and emerging companies in this part of the state.

    Entrepreneurs eligible for the award include owners and managers responsible for performance of privately held companies and founders of public companies active in top management.

    Nomination forms will be available through all local sponsors beginning in January. Nominations will be sought in a number of industry categories, including retailing/consumer products, manufacturing, health care/life sciences, real estate, banking, construction and service.

    A panel of independent judges comprised of West Michigan business, academic and civic leaders will select award recipients in May.

    Judges will base their decisions on entrepreneurs’ demonstrated successes, such as innovation, financial performance, and growth in operations and staff — as well as on their business commitment and community involvement.

    Winners will be announced June 20 at the West Michigan awards ceremony to be held in the Ambassador Ballroom of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

    West Michigan award recipients will be eligible to compete for several national award categories, including the 2002 National Entrepreneur Of The Year award.

    National-level finalists and award winners will be announced at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year International Conference in Palm Springs, Calif., in November 2002.

    Among past Michigan EOY winners are: Fred Bauer, Gentex Corp.; Lew Chamberlin, West Michigan Whitecaps; Bob Woodrick, D&W; Rich DeVos, Amway Corp.; J.C. Huizenga, National Heritage Academies; and Peter Secchia, Universal Forest Products. 

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