Annual Joliet Chamber awards recognize IKEA, Tonelli, Pritz family and more

7 award winners have been announced, 5 more to be named at annual dinner

The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry has found a new headquarters next to the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Joliet, Ill.

The annual awards dinner for the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry features some unique elements this year, including recognition for a large warehouse operator.

The dinner is Feb. 27, and tickets still are available.

The local logistics industry doesn’t get many kudos for contributions to the community.

But the IKEA Fulfillment Center deserves its recognition as Large Employer of the Year, Chamber President Jen Howard said.

“IKEA has become a great partner with the Chamber,” Howard said. “They have taken real steps to be involved with the Chamber and the community.”

Employees with the international home furnishings company have been particularly active with the Chamber’s Diversity Equity Inclusion Council and its Council for Working Women.

IKEA is one of seven award winners already announced. Five others will be announced at the dinner, contributing to what Howard said is an Academy Awards atmosphere that adds some entertainment and “a little suspense to the event.”

Winners already announced include Rodney Tonelli, who stepped in as interim city manager for the city of Joliet from June to December.

Tonelli gets the Rabbi Hershman Community Service Award, which recognizes work far beyond his 2023 stint at city hall, Howard said.

“Actually, it goes back to about 20 years of community service,” she said. “I don’t think everybody realizes what he’s been involved in.”

Interim City Manager Rod Tonelli takes in Salsa Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023 in Downtown Joliet.

Howard noted that Tonelli is a past board president for the Will County Center for Economic Deveopment and the Joliet City Center Partnership. She listed several organizations in which Tonelli has been a member and said he’s been a regular volunteer for community events.

The Pritz family, which owns and runs the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate, will receive the Brother James Gaffney Award of Excellence.

Three generations of the Pritz family are involved with the mansion and ballroom, which is a regular setting for events staged by local nonprofits and other community organizations, Howard said.

“They’re continuously giving back to the community,” she said.

A news clipping from the Herald-News from 1949 sits on display at a luncheon to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Rotary Club at Jacob Henry Mansion on Tuesday, Aug. 1 in Joliet.

Other award winners already announced are:

• Heritage Corridor Destinations as Small Employer of the Year.

• Larson Steel Products as New Business of the Year.

• Colleen Lyons as Young Professional of the Year.

• Melissa Helfert as Ambassador of the Year.

Winners will be announced at the dinner in several categories.

• Education, for which the nominees are Lewis University, Governors State University and the Diocese of Joliet Catholic Schools.

• Financial services, for which the nominees are Busey Bank, Abri Credit Union and Elevate Private Wealth Management.

• Professional services, for which the nominees are Wermer, Rogers, Doran and Ruzon LLC; Emediate Cure Quick Care; and VNA Health Care.

• Retail services, for which the nominees are Internode Greenery & Home, Popus Gourmet Popcorn and C & C Vision Gallery.

• Social services, for which the nominees are the Greater Joliet Area YMCA, Senior Services Center of Will County and Easter Seals Joliet Region Inc.

The dinner will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Renaissance Center. Tickets are $60 and can be bought on the Chamber website at

For information, call the Chamber at 815-727-5371.