O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, along with the Belleville News-Democrat and O'Fallon Progress, co-hosted the 42nd annual Salute to Business Awards on April 11, honoring businesses that have made a particularly positive impact in the community. The luncheon event was at the Regency Conference Center in O'Fallon.
This year, businesses and institutions being recognized were:
HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital (Overall Business Award)
McKendree MetroRecPlex (Economic Impact Award)
St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church (Heritage Award)
Strano and Associates Real Estate (Community Service sponsored by the Rotary Clubs in O'Fallon).
Matt Gilreath, of Telecom Direct USA and an O'Fallon City Ward 3 alderman, served this year's event as master of ceremonies, introducing each of the honorees to the 300 attendees of the annual event.
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In addition to the business awards given out at the event, Paul Evans, of Evans Law Firm, outgoing president of the O'Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, passed the gavel onto his successor, Sid LeGrand, of Gonzolez Companies LLC.
Sheri Welch, an independent insurance agent, was also awarded the chamber's Ambassador of the Year Award, and Renee' LaBruyere, director of business development of M2 Architecture Studio, was awarded the Ambassador Impact Award.
New construction with landscaping
Exterior reconstruction with landscaping
Maintenance of existing facilities & landscaping
or unique service to community
Patti Fischer, interim CEO and president of HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital, accepted the hospital's Overall Business Award with words of thanks.
"Our system, the Hospital Sisters Health System and our local leadership team truly appreciate the ongoing partnerships we have at the O'Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and the great wealth of support business leaders and community organizations, like those in the room today have given us from the start of our construction project through the opening of our beautiful new facility," Fischer said.
The brand new, $300 million facility opened on Nov. 4, 2017 in O'Fallon. According to a new report, St. Elizabeth’s employs 1,059 full-time health care professionals, resulting in 1, 391 additional jobs for the community, and generates a total annual impact of $451,740,636 ($451.7 million) on the local and state economies.
"As a health and wellness destination, St. Elizabeth's is dedicated to offering quality services with the newest technologies utilized by the best and brightest healthcare professionals, (and) we also continue to develop plans for the future needs of the region to best serve the communities of southwestern Illinois and keep the health dollars and jobs here," Fischer said.
Capital investment for new construction
Capital investment for upgrades/remodels
Expansion that attracted other industry or stimulated community development
New or unique service to community
"It's an honor and it's a humbling experience to accept this award today. The chamber is built by sole proprietors, organizations and people involved in civic leadership here in our area, and to be recognized by that group is certainly an honor and a privilege," Oelze said.
Oelze tipped his hat to those in his life like his wife, Amanda, and mother, Marion, who is also part of the complex's ownership group.
Spirit of the Chamber
This award is for an O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce member. Nominations are made by the Chamber Board of Directors.
Location — not restricted to O’Fallon-Shiloh
Brea Nungesser Bidwell and her brother Marty Nungesser have learned from their parents.
Both have been working in the family business, Roy-el BBQ and Catering. Quentin and Sherry Nungesser started the business over 30 years ago.
"Growing up working in a family business can be very challenging, but out parents instilled very strong values — work hard and family," Nungesser Bidwell said.
She said the chamber is "always helping to promote business and bring together people" in the community, which she and her family take pride in helping with. Events like chamber-business luncheons, business after hours and the annual Salute to Scott Air Force Base Expo, are some examples of business and community partnerships Roy-el BBQ and Catering participate.
"From all of us at Roy-el, we are honored and humbled to receive the Spirit of the Chamber Award. We as a business are extremely proud to be a part of and work with great organizations," Nungesser Bidwell said.
Existence for 100-plus years
The Rev. Jim Deiters, pastor of St. Clare of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, accepted the Heritage Award on behalf of the 150-year-old parish.
Deiters said the church's 3,500 parishioners have been its "the real bedrock of faith."
The current home of St. Clare Church on Cross Street is actually the third structure to bear the St. Clare name. The first mass took place in 1858 in downtown O'Fallon. The first home to St. Clare's church took root on Third Street in 1867, and later St. Clare school was established as well.
"I love the title of this award, called the 'Heritage Award,' which connotes something that is inherited, something passed down from a previous generation," Deiters said.
"A Heritage Award simply means that our generation is doing its part to carry the torch — the torch of faith, the torch of community that's been handed onto us from a very faith-filled, dedicated and hardworking people of past generations," he said. "Each of us is a steward, a care taker of the gifts God has given to us to be cared for and nourished and enriched and then passed onto the next generation. What a great responsibility it is to be stewards together."
Deiters brought with him a relic from the church's long history, a journal dating back to 1868. He shared some insights of community collaboration from some of the early pastors of St. Clare, when it was just a small mission church.
"In 1906, O'Fallon had become a booming city, he says, of 2,000 inhabitants mostly contributed to from the building two new coal mines ... and that was the year that O'Fallon was incorporated as a city, at least that's what the pastor writes about in 1906," Deiters read from the priest’s entry of 112 years ago.
"I add these few details to highlight how much the city of O'Fallon and Shiloh and the various churches, especially St. Clare, have worked together over these years to create the vibrant community that we have today," Deiters said.
This award is sponsored by Rotary Clubs in O’Fallon.
Things to considered:
Businesses that exemplify the Rotary motto of “Service above self”
The three O'Fallon Rotary Clubs representatives Ken Cooley, Dale Rupright and Kim Sabella presented Strano & Associates Real Estate owner and co-founder Dede Strano, her family and employees with the Rotary Community Service Award.
"We're a real family affair. We're three generations, and we're truly a team and a family at Strano & Associates," Dede Strano said.
The family-operated business was founded in 1997 by the late Bob Strano and his wife, Dede. While Bob passed in 1999, Dede remains active with the company. Her daughter, Stephanie Strano-Maine, is the president, and her granddaughter, Alex Anderson, is the chief operating officer.
"We're led by a lot of caring and loving people doing a lot of good —as you've heard — in the community.I just happen to be the lucky one who gets to stand up here and represent everybody who does so much good," Strano said.
From the hundreds of book bags donated annually to local students and schools to the thousands of dollars donated to local charities, the Strano staffers choose monthly local causes to give back to because "they care about the communities they invest in," Strano said.
She told attendees that the most important word in the company's name is 'and.'
"The 'and' represents over 100 associates, brokers, families, friends, relatives, vendors who come forward every year to help and support everything that we try to do give back to the communities that we represent," She said.
Some of the recipients of Strano and Associates' many charitable endeavors have been the Airman's Attic at Scott Air Force Base, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Hurricane Harvey aftermath disaster relief efforts, local community food pantries and much more.