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Localism and the 20th Annual Business Awards

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Mayor Heartwell address members of the City Commission

Mayor Heartwell address members of the City Commission

Localism is hitting hard in Grand Rapids, and Neighborhood Ventures' 20th Annual Neighborhood Business Awards (NBA), held on November 5 at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy St. SE), seemed like a great way to find out more about new local businesses.

The night started with some noshing on great local food from great local restaurants, including several award nominees. It turns out that Empanadas Deliciosas, usually known for their savory stuffed pastries, also makes a tasty flan (so much so that my companions ate at least 6 pieces. Each!).  And I made sure to swing by the Brickroad Pizza booth to say hi!

Once the awards presentation started rolling local business celebs such as Shawn Biel, Renee Williams, Former Mayor John Logie and Mark Lewis took the stage, along with some of our city government: 4 commissioners, a local State representative, and our current Mayor, George Heartwell.

Highlights included:

  • Lots of props for the Westside and bike related businesses!
  • Mayor Heartwell was presented with a [G-RAP] t-shirt
  • There was a double mayor moment with both Logie and Heartwell onstage!
  • The state approved Enhanced Historic Preservation Tax Credits for Kendall College of Art & Design / Ferris State University to renovate the old federal Building located at Division and Pearl.

Historical recounts include

  • Former Mayor Lyman Parks was in office during the Grand Rapids Riots
  • Loeks Theaters are celebrating 65 years as a GR business, their first theater was located on Pearl Street and was called the Midtown Theater
  • Former Mayor Gerald Helmholdt started the business associations in GR 

After a bit of banter, the John H Logie Neighborhood Business Champion Award was awarded to Bing Goei from Eastern Floral for his innovative Entrepreneurial Center, a small-business incubator located in the former Kendall Furniture factory at 818 Buttorworth SW. From there, the awards just started rolling.

There were two awards in each category, the first was selected by a NBA committee who visited over 100 sites and businesses in order to choose finalists. The second category was a People’s Choice selected by over 800 Rapid Growth Media readers!  

Winners include:

Green Award

Green Life Market

Peoples Choice: Fulton Street Farmers Market


Best Business Exterior

Moody Memorial Chapel

Peoples Choice: Wealthy Bakery


Best Business Renovation

Talk A lot Wireless

Peoples Choice: Red Jet Café


Best Interior Renovation

Lott 3 Metz Architecture

Peoples Choice: Bombay Cuisine


Best Long Standing Business

Freewheeler Bike Shop

Peoples Choice: Choo Choo Grill


Best Neighborhood Restaurant


Peoples Choice: Marie Catrib's


Best New Business

Wired Espresso Bar

Peoples Choice: Commute Grand Rapids Bike Shop


Best New Construction- Large

McGraw Construction - Bicycle Factory

Peoples Choice:  The Hauenstein Center at St. Mary's


Best New Construction- small project

Electric Cheetah / Bear Manor

Peoples Choice: Electric Cheetah / Bear Manor


Best Nonprofit Project

Grand Rapids Community foundation

Peoples Choice: Grand Rapids Public Schools: Houseman Field


Best Promotion

Avenue for the Arts

Peoples Choice: the Cottage Bar 20th annual Chili Cook-off


Best Reuse of a Building

The Winchester

Peoples Choice: The Winchester


Best Window Display

Renee Austin

Peoples Choice: Wealthy at Charles


Gerald R Helmholdt Grand Award

Grand Rapids Public Schools!


Disclosure: Jenn Schaub is a community organizer with the Neighborhood Revitilazation program at Dwelling Place. She was largely responsible for the winning promotional efforts of the Avenue for the Arts. -ed.

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