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RAMAC bestows annual business honors

RAMAC bestows annual business honors

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RACINE COUNTY — Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce has made public its latest batch of annual awards that will be celebrated Wednesday at Roma Lodge.

RAMAC annually recognizes excellence and achievement of its members in business improvement, growth, innovation, and/or support to its employees. “All of these contribute to the improvement of the business climate and vitality of the greater Racine area,” RAMAC states.

This year’s award recipients, with excerpts from their nominations:

Business Person of the Year: Dave Brown, Carpetland USA Flooring Center (see story on Page C1)

Manufacturer of the Year: Norco Manufacturing

Founded in 1962, Norco Manufacturing designs, manufactures, installs and supports its Universal Door Systems for large-scale applications including military and corporate hangars, commercial and industrial facilities, and unique architectural buildings.

In 1986, company veteran David Eberle bought Norco and has since been able to expand its worldwide presence, improve its design and manufacturing process and embrace new technologies that have enhanced Norco’s product performance and reliability.

As a continued testament to Eberle’s commitment to the Racine community, Norco was the first tenant in line to build in the new DeBack Farms Business Park in Caledonia where they will build a new $8 million manufacturing plant. The desire to build and expand was part of what led to the new business park and shows Norco’s confidence and pride in Racine County.

Retail/Service Business of the Year: Ivanhoe, Carriage House, Envi

Small businesses are integral to a community to add to the tax base, provide jobs, give a community an identity, show innovation and bring some diversity to an area. “The Downtown establishments of Ivanhoe, Carriage House and Envi, dubbed “I.C.E.” and owned by Doug Nicholson, hit it out of the park with their commitment, involvement and continuous support to the Racine community. Nicholson has been able to show longevity and a history of growth with these establishments and has become an integral part of the economic impact that Downtown Racine brings to this community as a whole.”

Young Professional of the Year: Jason Meekma, Focus on Community

Jason Meekma is executive director of Focus on Community, a nonprofit agency “offering innovative and integrated services for the prevention of substance abuse. Since assuming this position in 2014, Meekma has created an atmosphere of collaboration among his staff and with other nonprofit agencies.” He has volunteered and supported Habitat for Humanity and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, hosted a free run/walk community event, is a graduate of RAMAC’s Leadership Racine program,and regularly attends and supports the fundraising efforts of other local nonprofits.

In a continued effort to help move Racine forward, Meekma ran and was elected alderman of the city’s 14th District. Meekma also regularly participates in triathlons. He is founder of the STRIVE Triathlon Club and qualified and competed in the World Championship Triathlon where he placed 12th in the world in his age group.

Apollo Award for New and Innovative Business: Build a Bow

This award is sponsored by the Racine County Workforce Development Board which provides the recipient with a $2,000 cash prize to be used for marketing, product development and/or research and development. Build a Bow was founded and is currently run by 9-year-old Alex Hart-Upendo. Since age 5, he has been building the foundation of this fashion and special events business. Build a Bow started as a custom bow tie retailer but has grown to include special events for which Hart-Upendo provides attendees with the materials and instruction they need to make their own bowties or hair bows.

Hart-Upendo hopes to expand his company outside of Racine and continue to touch the lives of many. He hopes to one day have a community center and give people a place to create art free of charge. “The accomplishments of Hart-Upendo already speak volumes to the economic growth potential of Build a Bow.”

Ascension Healthy Connections Award: Gateway Technical College

Each year what is now Ascension All Saints Hospital chooses an employer who demonstrates the organization’s commitment to implementing wellness initiatives in the workplace to create a culture of good health. This year’s recipient, Gateway Technical College, has demonstrated this commitment through various initiatives including health assessments for employees and spouses, an all-employee health fair, flu vaccines and its Engaged Wellness Committee.


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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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