2017 Summit Awardees Information

Summit Award for Small Business of the Year:

 Center for Dental Excellence of Flossmoor, Il.

The founding dentists, Dr. Charles Greenebaum and Dr. Cary Goldberg, are both highly qualified dentists and dental surgeons.  All of the dentists in the practice have excellent credentials and reputations.  Besides the quality of their dental work, they were nominated and awarded the Small Business of the Year Award in recognition of their innovative and remarkable business practices that extend above and beyond: things that make them best in class!

Their first commitment, their mission is “to provide you with excellent treatment and excellent service.  Our primary goal at your dental appointment is to find the problem, relieve the pain, and prepare for a solution. Our dentists are here to provide results and the most enjoyable dental visit you will ever have! “

There is a name for hating to go to the dentist: it is called ODONTOPHOBIA,  (pronounced Oh Don Toe Foebeeya) fear of going to the dentist.  The Center for Dental Excellence works to overcome this in several ways:

  1. Their courteous scheduling and front desk manner.
  2. You rarely wait for very long when you have an appointment and yet you never feel rushed during your appointment because they schedule realistically.
  3. While they take their business seriously, they also have a friendly and fun atmosphere that includes parties for staff and patients, a fun website with lots of pictures and patient interaction. On their website they even have a list of “Why I Hate to Go to the Dentist”
  4. Use of technology that goes beyond their dental equipment and into their business practices, using texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, a Blog and more to share ideas, patient comments, whitepapers about dentistry and choosing a dentist.
  5. Their commitment to the community: Center for Dental Excellence calls it “Giving Forward and Bettering the Community in which we Live and Work”. One of the initiatives is their “Dentistry From the Heart” event where they provide one filling, extraction, or cleaning to those in dire need. They also proudly support over 40 charitable organizations. Their support of the community also includes “Flossie” their smart car that parks at various places and invites finding “her” and snapping a selfie w/her for prizes.  The locations vary and highlight the Homewood/Flossmoor area, including businesses, recreational sites, etc.  The prizes often include gift certificates for local businesses. They see the value in having a vibrant community that is supportive of businesses,residents, and the arts.

For these reasons and more, The Center for Dental Excellence was nominated and chosen as the winner for this year.  Accepting the Award is Dr. Charles Greenebaum and Dr. Cary Goldberg.


Honorable Mention for Summit Award for Small Business of the Year:

Rad Electric LLC,Calumet City Il.

Rad Electric LLC owners Rodney Brown and Andre Hammond started their business in 2010.  Rodney is a former Accountant and Andre a former electrician.  They both sit on the Board of Black Contractors Owners & Executives, and they are committed to helping other small contractors build sustainable businesses.

The mission of the Company is to provide quality electrical contracting work in a cost effective manner.

Over the past seven plus years this company has planned for the future, becoming  minority certified,  a signatory with local 134, 9, 176 and 697, and obtaining a substantial line of credit to be in a position to carry larger jobs. They have been planning for growth and have been achieving it. The work they focus on is electrical construction installation for commercial construction industrial construction, building automation and controls, maintenance, fire alarms and low voltage wiring.  The company has established several strong partnerships, including LiveWire Construction, a past winner of this award.

Accepting the Award for RAD Electric is Rodney Brown.


Training Excellence Leader of the Year:

Mark Kramer, Rich Township High School District 227, Manufacturing Careers Outreach Coordinator and former principal of Rich East High School

As Manufacturing Careers Outreach Coordinator, Mark Kramer works with his school district, other regional educational institutions, students, non-profits, government organizations, and manufacturing businesses to ensure a strong program and graduates who are ready and eager to work and/or pursue further education or training.

Kramer had a non-traditional pathway to educational leadership. He received a full-ride college scholarship in Track & Field. He then worked for many years in the commercial printing industry. Eventually he decided to reinvent himself as a teacher, and he left printing on a Tuesday and by Friday was an assistant coach at College of DuPage coaching men & women sprinters & pole vaulters, some of whom became National Champions by that spring!  Next, he started working in schools that few applied to for teaching positions and realized that he was good with at risk kids. After becoming principal of Rich East, Kramer and his team led the student body to graduation rates of 94%, as well as dramatically improving math and reading scores within two years.

And then came his next passion:  When he began his mission to focus on manufacturing as a strong career option, more schools had closed their manufacturing programs than were keeping them, and certainly few were expanding them.  Eight years ago, Kramer began taking Rich East students on plant tours and began to stimulate students’ interest in manufacturing as a course of study and as a route to jobs.

In his most recent position as Manufacturing Careers Outreach Coordinator of Rich Township High School District 227, the Robotics, Precision Metals and CAD program has grown from 16 students in May, 2016 to 245 students. The program embraces the entire high school district: Rich East, Rich Central and Rich South.

His mission has included procurement of equipment for the manufacturing lab; establishing a Manufacturing Career Program that develops in-demand skill sets; certifications and credentials for students; recruitment of students; recruitment of community members for a night school program; establishing partnerships with other entities; finding internships (many of them paid internships) for participants; and jobs for graduates.

These manufacturing careers have given students lucrative starting salaries with increased earning potential, health benefits, retirement plans, and college tuition assistance.  And Mark Kramer has been the passionate but modest inspiration behind this.

By being unrelenting in his mission, he has achieved many of his goals, and there are many current and former students who are creating and achieving goals, as well.


Economic Development Leader of the Year:

Calumet Area Industrial Commission known as CAIC

CAIC is a regional organization that was founded in the mid-1960s by the industrial members of the Roseland Chamber of Commerce when they decided to form a business association that would better serve heavy industry, maritime-oriented industries, service companies and financial institutions.

Initially, manufacturing, especially steel, was booming and companies were very profitable. In the late 1970s, for example, there were more than 56,000 jobs within a five-mile radius of CAIC’s office. Then hard times arrived, and the number of companies became smaller, and CAIC was nimble enough to change with the times..

Today there are more than 150 members, located in the City of Chicago, Southern Cook County & Northwestern Indiana, CAIC continues to initiate, promote and support programs directed toward industrial retention and expansion in the region with a variety of workforce development programs to address industry’s need for manufacturing talent & training. The organization focuses on safety, environmental control and economic development, and consults, advises and connects companies with resources that meet their needs, working to optimize the region’s excellent access to transportation, including rail, road and waterways; the more than 30 institutions of higher learning; and the proximity to suppliers and markets.

They are being recognized today for their role in economic development as CAIC serves as a catalyst in the field of manufacturing, seeking and working with effective collaborative partnerships, being awarded, and successfully implementing grants that have re-vitalized the region the organization serves, including implementing quality programs in job training for careers in manufacturing.

Accepting the Award for Calumet Area Industrial Commission is Robert Bushwaller, Board Chair for CAIC.


Creative Arts Excellence Award:

Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra

This year’s creative arts awardee is the Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra  (SYSO) , whose mission  is “ to provide all students with the necessary skills, music education, and inspiration to play and enjoy music, and to rebuild the culture of string playing in the south/southwest suburbs.”

SYSO has brought meaningful, quality musical learning experiences to its 70 young members in the southern and southwest suburbs of Chicago.  SYSO reaches young children encouraging them to experience all of the richness music can bring. The students, who range in age from 8-17, have a variety of choices in programs, such as The Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra, which is the top performing group and namesake of the organization; The Suburban Youth Strings (SYS), and The Suburban Youth Philharmonic.

Since 1962, Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra has been training young orchestra musicians in the Chicago Southland, focusing on increasing the number of string-instrument players and existing as a venue for aspiring musicians to play in a full true orchestra.

In 2009, Suburban Youth Symphony Organization came close to dissolving, as string programs in the school districts of Chicago Heights, Park Forest, and Crete were eliminated due to budget cuts.   SYSO, faced with a greatly diminished pool of advancing students in this geographic region, stepped in to serve young musicians hungry for the opportunity to learn advanced orchestral literature.  A need had been identified and a new program – the Incredible Opportunity Program was created, conceived in 2009 and launched in 2010.  Students can apply and be selected through an essay contest “Why I Want to Play the violin, viola, cello or bass” to receive low cost group violin instruction and orchestral experience. From these submissions, a maximum of 20 students are selected and they receive the same “deal’ as if music were still part of a public school education– group lessons, orchestra exposure, and instrument rental at the low cost of $25 per month.

SYSO continues to develop new ideas that promote memorable experiences to encourage students to continue their musical education.  Most recently Cindy Westerman, president of SYSO, enlisted various members of SAMBA to work with HITS (Horses in the Sunshine at the former BalmoralRacePark) and create an “all Arts” Program for the children of families participating in the summer events at HITS.

Through other collaborative efforts with SAMBA members, SYSO continues to increase performance opportunities, expand visibility and reach more individuals with the desire to include music in their lives at affordable rates.

Special mention is due for the President, Cindy Westerman, who has been active with SYSO and the Crete Women’s Club, has partnered the two organizations for numerous fundraising events benefitting underprivileged youth who have no access to musical instruments or lessons. Through the efforts of Cindy Westerman, SYSO, and the Crete Women’s Club, the Crete Park District also began offering another similar program, After School Works,  to reach still more students.

Besides Cindy, other officers include:  Vice President, Lisa Kristina of Chicago Heights; Treasurer, Chuck Amenta of Flossmoor; Secretary, Emily Lewis Mantell of Orland Park.  There are also several board members and advisory board members, some of whom are here today.

Accepting the Award for SYSO is Lisa Kristina.


Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award:

Lauren Parker, Homewood-Flossmoor High School

Lauren Parker is a senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.  She is very involved with school and loves Homewood-Flossmoor High School. She is dedicated, hard working, dependable, with excellent communication and time management skills, exemplified by her long list of accomplishments during her high school career.

Here are highlights of her high school accomplishments:

-  She has taken Advanced Placement classes in school and has a 5.03 Grade Point Average on a 4.0 scale.

-  She is a member of the National Honor Society

-  She is the Chair of public relations with the Homewood-Flossmoor Chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA).  DECA is a 70 year old International organization prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in High Schools and Colleges for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

-  Homewood-Flossmoor High School has a Television and Radio program company named Viking Broadcast Company and Lauren is the television Station Manager. This fits in with her career goal of one day owning her own Television Network.

-  She is the team captain for Varsity tennis and State qualifier for Varsity Tennis for the last two years.

-  She is Director of Publicity for Snowflake, which works with community children.

-  She is Student Liaison to the Flossmoor Community Relations Committee

Lauren is not sure what college she will attend but Penn State is very high on her list and she has already been accepted there. She is waiting on responses from additional college applications.  She will probably major in business law or political science.

For Lauren’s entrepreneurship:

She has developed an online consignment store called Shoplos (that’s www.shoplos.store) where used clothes are resold at an affordable price and delivered to the purchaser’s home.  She shops at thrift stores and takes clothes on consignment.  She prepares the clothes for resale, has photoshoots of fellow student models wearing the clothes, and posts them on her website, which she developed herself and is the webmaster.  She also has an Instagram site where she posts the clothes.  She has contracts with her models and pays them a percentage of the sales price.  DECA taught her how to keep financial records and she has a financial book.  She has a budget for her business and tracks her profits and losses.  She advertises online, has business cards, and generates email campaigns.

She follows solid business principles learned through DECA and tracks her income, expenses and profits on spreadsheets. She has used her profits to pay for college applications and plans to continue the business while in college to help with college expenses.



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