Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce honors local businesses

Published 2:07 pm Monday, October 17, 2022

DOWAGIAC — The Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting at Dowagiac Elks Lodge 889 last Wednesday evening, its first since 2019.  

The event, hosted by the non-profit business association’s Board of Trustees, serves as an opportunity to gather with the organization’s business members,  recognize the service of each to the other, and honor businesses and individuals that have positively impacted the Dowagiac community.  

“The evening is about honoring and recognizing our memberships’s work- their everyday jobs and their volunteer efforts above and beyond their workplaces that contribute to making Dowagiac a great community,”  stated President of the Board of Trustees, Kris Soenen.  After keynote speaker Dr. Joe Odenwald, President of Southwestern Michigan College, shared personal stories about the great businesses in Dowagiac, the Chamber of Commerce made award presentations. 

Business of the Year award recipient was Hale’s Hardware.  This award recognizes a Chamber member business that has made in-depth contributions to the Dowagiac area through their business and is active, involved, interested, and enthusiastic about continuing to make Dowagiac a destination of choice for local business. This annual award for excellence in business is judged on the following: history of successful business, leadership, marketing, customer satisfaction, and community involvement for a legacy business in the greater Dowagiac area.  Nominees must be a chamber member in good standing.  

As their nomination read: In its 64th year of operation, Hale’s Hardware is a legacy and cornerstone business in Dowagiac, which has spanned three generations.  Customer service, both knowledgeable and personable, is paramount to Hale’s. As the needs of the community have changed and as a means to remain competitive in its industry, Hale’s Hardware has also changed with the times in both presentation, product line and social media advertising. In their very humble and quiet way, the Hale’s family has always shown they are proud to be a part of this community.  

The Young Professional of the Year was awarded to Stefany Holland of Wightman.  This annual award recognizes a young professional who is growing and excelling in their respective profession.  The individual is currently influencing development, growth, prosperity, and quality of life in our community. They must demonstrate the ability to positively impact the future through professional accomplishments and community involvement.  Must be the age of 18-40, and do not have to be a chamber member.

The following individuals were also nominated: Branden Pompey of SMC and Amelia Lietzau of The Barton Group. 

Holland has been involved in gathering community feedback for development of City streetscape projects, as well as engineering those same projects.  She continues her professional development with Wightman, currently serving as Commercial Sector Specialist, Project Manager, Architecture, and volunteers and works with the Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac, currently serving as the group’s president.   

The Community Service Award was presented to the Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac.  This award honors an outstanding individual or group who gives their time and expertise to the community, above and beyond their own field of endeavor, and  who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in all they do. This individual or group is an inspiration to the community, both in their profession and in their efforts to make the Dowagiac area a better place to live, work and play, and does not have to be a chamber member.  

The  Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac plans and hosts community events such as the Daddy Daughter Dance, Mommy and Me Dance, and the  Annual Fireworks.  They both raised money for and coordinated the build of the Pavilion at Russom Park.  

The Shining Star award winner was Pat Bakeman of Bakeman Barbers.  This annual award  is presented to the business or person that has gone above and beyond the boundaries of their workplace in service to our community. Nominees must be a chamber member in good standing.  Not only does Pat own and operate Bakeman Barbers, Pat serves as a City of Dowagiac Council member and has been a voice of Chieftain football broadcasts for many years.