Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce celebrates business award winners

NILES — One Niles organization took time Friday to recognize area business leaders and their contributions to the community over the past year.

Friday, the Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce hosted Chamber Pulse, the organization’s annual meeting and awards ceremony. While the meeting was host virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals from across the region gathered to partake in the meeting. The Chamber Pulse featured keynote speaker Molly Williams, director of alliance development at Pfizer Inc., updates and recognitions from the Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce and the presentation of four chamber business awards. 

The newest award presented was the Economic Impact Award, established this year. According to the chamber, this award is presented to a business that has paved the way to the future within the greater Niles area and showcased a heightened level of development and innovation that has fostered a ripple effect of prosperity throughout the region.

The Greater Niles Chamber’s 2021 Economic Impact Award was presented to General Capital Group. General Capital Group is best known in Niles for their three major housing development projects: Berkshire Niles, the Four Flags Apartments and the Post Office Apartments. Through these three projects, General Capital Group was commended for being a driving force for accessible and affordable housing, and representing a reported investment of more than $46 million in the Niles community.

The second award presented was the 2021 Young Professional of the Year Award, awarded to Niles resident Ambrosia Neldon. According to the chamber, the award is intended to recognize a business professional, between the ages of 21 and 39, who is making strides in their career and in the greater Niles community, showcasing innovation, professionalism and assiduousness in their career.

Neldon is the general manager of Leader Publications, which publishes numerous print and digital products including the Niles Daily Star, the Leader and leaderpub.com, among others. She joined the Leader Publications team as a designer in 2013, and was promoted to managing editor in 2014 and general manager in 2016. A 2009 graduate of Brandywine High School, Neldon holds degrees from Western Michigan University in journalism and rhetoric. Neldon currently serves on the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation’s Niles Area Board, is a board member for Niles Main Street DDA, co-advises MGCF’s Youth Advisory Council, serves on the Michigan Press Association Board and is a member of multiple chambers of commerce.

Next up was the chamber’s 2021 Community Leadership Award, presented to Spectrum Health Lakeland to honor the work the Niles hospital has completed throughoaut the coronavirus pandemic. The Community Leadership Award, presented by Green Stem Provisioning, is designed to commemorate an individual, business or organization that has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their service to the greater Niles community. This individual, business or organization has devoted much of their time and energy to the betterment of our society and continues to do so in excellence, chamber representatives said.

Finally, the Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Business of the Year Award was presented to Iron Shoe Distillery. The Business of the Year Award is presented to a business that has contributed to the community development and quality of life in the greater Niles area, officials said. The recipient of the award exhibits outstanding business practices, professional conduct and represents the greater Niles community in a prestigious manner.

Iron Shoe Distillery was presented the award in recognition of the distillery’s “unparalleled dedication to best-business practices, innovation in the face of uncertain times across the region and support to the prosperity of the business region.”

Iron Shoe opened in April 2019 offering spirits, food, and a space for friends and neighbors to gather together.

“Despite [COVID-19] challenges, Iron Shoe Distillery shined brightly in the Niles community and maintained their upstanding brand and excellent quality practices,” said Eileen Villanueva, of the chamber. “In addition, the distillery displayed incredible innovation during the pandemic, choosing to shift production in their distillery to produce hand sanitizer, working to drive support to the restaurant community by organizing Niles Restaurant Week, and making the decision to better support their business operations by beginning the journey of further expansion. “

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