The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) held its Annual Showcase virtually on May 21, 2021. The event recognizes businesses and organizations that help fulfill the NLEA mission to help communities retain and create quality jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix, and Cheboygan Counties.
The event began with keynote speaker Bob Jacquart, CEO of Michigan-made Stromy Kromer. Jacquart shared the story of his early career at his father’s company, Jacquart Fabric Products in the early ‘70s, and then took over the company in 1983. He became a successful entrepreneur, and the company became a “jack of all trades” before acquiring and relaunching Stormy Kromer in Ironwood, Michigan. According to Jacquart, it was not luck but “pluck” that he reached for this opportunity to make a small town stand tall. Stormy Kromer manufactures hand-crafted hats and apparel and employs approximately 100 people.
Award winners from the Showcase were as follows:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Rick Diebold for his 30+ years of service to NLEA including President of the Antrim County EDC, NLEA Board Chair – twice, impactful influence on legislation and advocate for children’s education.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Eric Grandstaff for his solid history in broadband development & media, and information sciences. Grandstaff leads the NLEA Broadband Consortium with a mission to proliferate gigabit high-speed, reliable, and cost-effective broadband services throughout the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance region.
Guts and Grit: Nancy Lindsay, of Citizens National Bank received this NLEA badge of honor that recognizes a person or organization as a major part of their community, business, or organization, always supporting others with time, sponsorships, and guidance. Lindsay was acknowledged for her knowledge of our region, marketing expertise, ability to collaborate, and talent in training and mentoring others.
Project of the Year: Truestream, a subsidiary of Great Lakes Energy, was awarded Project of Year for its commitment to bring the best fiber technology to the 26 counties they serve throughout Michigan. Construction began in 2018. Currently there are 7,800 customers connected and total mainline fiber deployed through April 2021 is 2,400 miles. Bill Scott, CEO of Great Lakes Energy and Shaun Lamp, CEO of Truestream accepted on the company’s behalf.
Other highlights from the event were recognizing the NLEA Board of Directors, namely 2020 Board Chair, Bill Scott of Great Lakes Energy and the service of outgoing Directors: Chris Christensen, Chuck Hayes; Joe Short; and Mark Lagerwey. Also recognized were three community projects: Boyne City as the 2020 Great American Main Street Award Winner; City of Charlevoix, a Redevelopment Ready Certified Community; and the City of Cheboygan, which recently moved up to a Michigan Main Street Select Level Community.