|A man with an office building in downtown Galesburg is being praised for being a place where small business can really go.
The Entrepreneurial Support Network of West Central Illinois honored Bob Bondi Tuesdaywith one of its first-ever Small Business Awards -- specifically, one for being "Advocate of the Year."
Bondi, through use of the Bondi Building, was referred to as being a "passionate advocate" for small business, having what essentially has become a downtown incubator for such business.
Bondi, for his part, says it's all thanks to the tenants.
"I just thank all of our tenants -- past, present, and future, " Bondi said, "for making the choice they have to have the Bondi Building and our properties their home."
BDI was credited for being Exporter of the Year. The screen manufacturer has and is still working to increase the amount of export business it does, and Pam Wildermuth says they're trying to even more, as evidenced by a guest that was with them -- a businessman from Santiago, Chile.
"We're doing some negotiations with him, and hopefully, we'll be starting to do some work for him," Wildermuth said.
"Small Business Startup of the Year" went to Kim Lakis and Erin Woodward, owners of "Denim and Pearls" at Seminary and Simmons Streets.
Woodward says the public and the city supporting the start-up made it possible.
"We just want to thank the community for all the support we've gotten," Woodward said, "from the City Council to (City Economic Development Director) Cesar (Suarez), (Entrepreneurship Center Director) Cat Garza, and all the business owners in Galesburg. We've just felt very welcomed, and learned a lot from all the businesses that we've interacted with."
Lakis referred to being able to open up the boutique shop featuring women's clothing and accessories as "a dream," while Galesburg Economic Development Director Cesar Suarez praised the store's location, and what he called "a phenomenal brand of excitement."
One of the bigger ones was the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year, which went to Mike Bond and Johann Ewalt, owners of Innkeepers Fresh-Roasted Coffee.
Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association Marketing Director Michelle Smith describes the owners of Innkeepers as outstanding leaders in the small business community. Smith reads from a nominating letter written by former Galesburg Mayor Gary Smith.
"It has been amazing to see Innkeepers grow...over the years," Smith wrote. "What started as a local coffee shop has become the coffee and gift destination for not only the locals here in Galesburg, but for visitors from all over the state and throughout the country. They have truly set a standard for excellence, and quality for their business, as well as being an example to others."
Among other awards given, Weaver Main Street Center developer Gerald Weaver won for how he garnered financing to rehab the former Radio Village Mall.
SMALL BUSINESS DAY "EAGLE" AWARD WINNERS:
Small Business Success Over 5 Years: Burt Coyote
Exporter of the Year: BDI
Small Business Start-Up of the Year: Denim & Pearls
Young Entrepreneur: Chris Doran, Doran Construction
Small Business Financing Project of the Year: Gerald Weaver, Weaver Main Street Center
Advocate of the Year: Bob Bondi, Bondi Building
Entrepreneur of the Year: Innkeepers Fresh-Roasted Coffee
Special Recognition: Prim-Rose Hair Designs, OSF Saint Mary Medical Center, Dick Blick
To download the entire ceremony, CLICK HERE (mp3 format, under 50 minutes long).
(Chris Doran of Doran Construction receives the "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" Award from Jan Monville of the Henderson County Economic Development Council during the Entrepreneurial Support Network's "Eagle Awards" Tuesday at The Kensington in Galesburg. WGIL News Story and Photo by Will Stevenson.)