Several businesses throughout Van Buren County received recognition this past week from an economic development group dedicated to promoting business in the county.

Market Van Buren hosted its inaugural Business Recognition Awards at the Black River Barn in South Haven, June 29. The event brought together company owners and community leaders to honor local businesses for their achievements over the past year.

The evening also included a keynote address by Brian Calley, the 63rd Lt. Governor of Michigan and president of the Michigan Small Business Association.

“I am pleased to have had the opportunity to join in celebrating Van Buren County businesses and Market Van Buren’s efforts to grow a stronger local economy,” Calley said. “While there is still much work to be done to ensure the small business community fully recovers from the pandemic, I appreciated this opportunity to celebrate with businesses that found success in the past year despite significant adversity.”

Following Calley’s keynote address, the first-ever Market Van Buren Business Recognition Awards were issued. Contenders for the awards were selected following a nomination and application process, which culminated in formal reviews by a panel of judges and the Market Van Buren Board of Directors, according to Mary Morphey, manager of corporate communications for Kinexus Group.

The following local businesses were honored with an award:

Best New Business of the Year – Learn and Grow Childcare in Hartford

Community Champion of the Year – Lounsbury Excavating in Paw Paw

Economic Pioneer of the Year – Barber Packaging in Bangor

Business Innovator of the Year – Getman Corp. in Bangor

Business Resilience Leader of the Year – Mercantile Bank of Michigan in Paw Paw

“Our community has many outstanding businesses,” said Zach Morris, executive director of Market Van Buren. “The five businesses we recognized tonight stood out among their peers and illustrated the talent and skills that our business community possess. I am grateful to have these businesses acting as leaders, innovators, pioneers, and champions in Van Buren County.

In recognition of their support of Market Van Buren in the organization’s early years, more than 30 local municipalities and businesses were also celebrated at the event as Pioneer Investors during the awards ceremony.

“Without our Pioneer Investors supporting us in the early days, we would not be here today,” said Tom Stanek, Chairman of the Board of Market Van Buren. “The financial support of our local municipalities and business owners is what empowers us to create programs, write grants, and build relationships that promote a robust local economy for all.”

Market Van Buren was forced to limit the size of the Business Recognition Awards this year due to the uncertainty of capacity restrictions in the early days of event planning. However, the organization plans to open the event to more business owners and community leaders next year.

Market Van Buren, a subsidiary of Kinexus Group, is an economic development organization dedicated to the advancement of economic growth in Van Buren County. The organization was formed to bring the public and private sectors together to advance the economic interests of Van Buren county.