February 18, 2012

Companies Make iNpact at Annual Awards Ceremony

By Jeff Fox - jeff.fox@examiner.net

The Independence business community on Friday took time to honor local companies that have expanded their operations during the past year.
“We choose not to participate in the recession,” said Ron Finke, president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He was speaking at the annual meeting of the Independence Economic Development Council, where the annual iNpact Awards and other honors were presented. Finke’s company was among the award sponsors.
Tom Lesnak, president of the EDC, said local employers added 458 new jobs last year – an added $17.8 million in local payrolls – as the city’s jobless rate continued to decline.

 The EDC works to bring new development to the community, and it operates the Ennovation Center on Forest Avenue, a business incubator with several companies using the commercial kitchen there and, so far, one bioscience company in the center’s lab spaces in the former hospital building.
“It certainly has been a big success, and there is more success yet to come,” Lesnak said.
The EDC presented several awards:
n The iNpact award is given to companies that have added at least two net new jobs or made $25,000 or more in capital expenditures in the last year. More than 100 companies have been honored with the award in its first four years, and this year there were 38 more.
They are Perkins, Truck Movers, Microwave Moldings, MAST Technologies, Munlake Contractors, Centerpoint Medical Center, Odyssey Healthcare, Continental Siding Company, Strikerz, The Berry Nutty Farm, Androjek, Around Town Catering, Up Dog, Yogurtini, Schulte Supply Company, ATK, the Lake City Business Center, The Groves, KCI Inc., Bearing Distributors, B&R Insulation, Foods of Liberty, 3 Feathers Construction, Hemco, Custom Engineering, Boost Physical Therapy, Corporate CopyPrint, Red Force Fire & Security, Staybridge Suites, Blanco & Blue Catering, PEMS Motors, For the Love of Cake, Cork & Barrel, Cable Dahmer Chevrolet, McBee Custom Homes, Salon Ami, Desktop Office Products and The Examiner.
Those 38 companies accounted for about 430 new jobs and $24 million in capital investment, according to the EDC.
  • The large manufacturer of the year is Hemco, which makes lab equipment.
  • The small manufacturer of the year is Hippie Chow, an Ennovation Center client that makes five flavors of granola and sells its products at several retailers in the area.
  • The small business of the year with one to 10 employees is Corporate CopyPrint on the Square. “ ... We love being in Independence,” said co-owner Tom Waters.
  • The small business of the year with up to 50 employees is Red Force Fire & Security, which makes fire-suppression systems.
  • The entrepreneur of the year is Foods of Liberty, also an Ennovation Center client. It makes healthy snacks such as Wheaters and Freaters.
There’s a new award this year, the George Matteson Leadership Award, named for the EDC’s first chairman.
“George did have a vision,” said former Independence Mayor Barbara Potts. “Plus he had the business sense and the community involvement to put it all together and make it happen.”
The award went to Jim Hinson, superintendent of the Independence School District. He just wrapped up two years as the chairman of the EDC’s board.
“We are very blessed to have the EDC,” Hinson said in a taped acceptance speech.