Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce celebrates business award winners

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, June 8, 2023

NILES — The Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce recognized local leaders who have helped the city and its businesses to flourish during its annual Chamber Pulse Luncheon Wednesday at The Morris Estate.

Presented by Honor Credit Union, the annual luncheon is the biggest networking event in the Niles region. “We couldn’t be more excited about your continued ongoing support as we try to help drive economic growth,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeff Rea. “We can’t do that without great partners and great investors, so thank you for being those investors and being great champions of the Niles area and of the chamber itself.”

The luncheon was headlined by Primitiv co-founders Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims, who were teammates together on the Detroit Lions National Football League team. Primitiv, a Michigan-based cannabis and wellness company, has operated in Niles since 2021. 

Calvin Johnson Jr. is a member of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame, and still holds the NFL single-season receiving yards record of 1,964 set in 2012. 

The duo was asked a variety of questions ranging from their time as professional football players to their current mission of moving the cannabis industry forward through their Primitiv brand.

“Where cannabis is going, I think our target is really the new customer,” Johnson said. “Where we are trying to take cannabis – the innovation – that’s what’s going to bring in new customers.

That’s where,  with research and new data, we will be able to unveil the really good powers of this plant and bring about a higher level of quality of life for the masses.”

The following people were awarded:

2023 Community Leader Award – This award was presented to The Morris Estate and accepted by General Manager Nate Barnett. The award 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. Chamber officials said The Morris Estate was selected due to its generosity and commitment to the Greater Niles community.

2023 Economic Impact Award – This award was presented to The Modineer Group and accepted by Chief Operations Officer Allen Pixley.  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 company was selected due to its considerable investments in its Niles facilities and continues to be a predominant employer for the region.

2023 Distinguished Leader Award – This award was presented to City of Niles Administrator Ric Huff. The award recognizes an individual who has made significant, tangible leadership contributions to the greater Niles community.

Huff became City Administrator in 2011 after retiring from police work. The city was still feeling the impact of the Great Recession of 2008 when he came into the position. There were estimates that it would take the city until 2048 to recover financially from The Great Recession. Thanks to millions of dollars in taxable value added to the city in recent years, instead of recovering in 2048, Niles recovered from the recession in 2021. At that point the city began generating revenue equal to what was generated in 2008.

A major factor in the city’s turnaround was its commitment to construction, with projects ranging from the new Drive and Shine to the Indeck Energy Plant. The energy center now generates 1,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power 635,000 homes and businesses through the use of clean natural gas and state-of-the-art technologies. Entrepreneurs and developers saw the potential in the Niles community and began making that investment. More than $20 million in taxable value has been added to the city in each of the past three years.