Duffy: It's awards season at the DeKalb Chamber

The year 2020 will begin for the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce with a chance to recognize businesses, individuals and organizations that help make the DeKalb area what it is.

Business of the Year

The Business of the Year is given annually to recognize a DeKalb Chamber member business that has contributed to the economic vitality and impact on the business community in the DeKalb area. The finalists for 2019 DeKalb Chamber Business of the Year are Alexis Kay Designs Inc. Bridal & Formal Wear, Jamrah Middle Eastern Cuisine, Lighthouse Professional Counseling Center, Papa John’s Pizza and The Junction Eating Place. Each has made contributions to the local business community and will be acknowledged for those. The selection of this award is done by a vote of our members and presented at the Annual Celebration Dinner on Jan. 23.

Hall of Fame

Since 2010, the DeKalb Chamber has been honoring business leaders who have added to the continued prestige and economic growth of the DeKalb Chamber and its business community. This year we’ll be adding to the 41 current members by adding three new inductees.

Inboden’s Gourmet Meats & Specialty Foods begin in DeKalb 58 years ago because of a persistent, hard-working man by the name of Ocie Inboden. This innovator and entrepreneur was a pioneer in vacuum pack technology. Ocie was a veteran of the U.S. Navy from a large family with 15 brothers and sisters. His hard work and dedication to his craft has helped Inboden’s Meats, which is now run by his son Tom, become a staple in the DeKalb community. Ocie will be inducted as a Pioneer member of the Hall of Fame.

In her current position with Northern Illinois University, Jennifer Groce is the director of Community Promotion. This role allows her to build on her past roles working with a variety of businesses throughout the area. Jennifer serves on a variety of boards and committees including DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., DeKalb Chamber Board as treasurer, and co-founder of Gather. A past Athena Award recipient, ReNew DeKalb executive director and facilitator in downtown DeKalb revitalization projects are also part of her contributions.

Being a radio personality has set the path with past Hall of Fame inductees Bob Brown and Dick Kliesch leading the way and Terry “TD” Ryan following while also making his own mark. He helps connect the business community with important news and interviews while going above and beyond. Freezing for Food and Let’s Talk Turkey are a couple of the programs that Ryan, a 2010 DeKalb Leadership Academy graduate, does to go beyond expectations to help the community.

Nonprofit Organization Award

Congratulations to the finalists for the DeKalb Chamber Nonprofit Organization Award. CASA DeKalb County, DeKalb County Community Gardens, Egyptian Theatre, Family Service Agency and Kishwaukee United Way will all be recognized and one will be named the 2020 Nonprofit Organization Award recipient.

This year’s DeKalb Chamber Annual Celebration Dinner will be held at the NIU Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23.

• Matt Duffy is executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.