A Publication of WTVP

How often do we realize the incredible strength of our local businesses and organizations? The Heartland Partnership is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of some of our region’s finest businesses and individuals through these awards:

• Heartland Partnership Community Wealth Award: Junior Achievement of Central Illinois was designed to help educate youth about the economics of life, personal finance, and the value of free enterprise through programs designed to enhance the K-12 curriculum. During the 2004-2005 school year, Junior Achievement of Central Illinois served about 5,300 students. Its explosive growth has placed Junior Achievement as the fourth-fastest-growing JA office in the country.

• EDC Growth & Innovation Award, Tazewell County: Homeway Homes is committed to becoming the lead builder of modular structures in central Illinois by building excellent, customized homes for affordable family living and quality commercial structures. In August 2005, the family-owned and -operated company opened a $5 million, 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Deer Creek projected to generate up to 150 jobs within five years.

• EDC Growth & Innovation Award, Woodford County: M.L. Fowler & Company manufactures custom cabinetry for the high-end residential market. Their products are available only through a select group of national dealers who work with them to provide true design-build cabinetry of the highest quality. The company’s upcoming expansion will enable it to hire 10 more full-time employees to its staff of 29.

• EDC Growth & Innovation Award, Peoria County: Advanced Technology Systems is an industry leader in managed services for production equipment maintenance, industrial parts repair, and IT infrastructure support for manufacturers. In 2005, ATS received a $305,000 workforce training grant that will enable the company to train nearly 1,000 employees in essential skills. Also in 2005, ATS opened its new “WorkForce Ready” Training Center to provide technical and leadership skills and on-the-job training.

• Outstanding Small Business 1-25 Employees: Echo Valley Meats is owned and operated by David Alwan, who created Echo Valley Meats to pursue a more specialized wholesale/retail market and start a gift catalog. Echo Valley Meats currently operates three retail shops located in Bartonville, Peoria, and Bloomington. Since 2001, Echo Valley Meats has grown from six employees to 15.

• Outstanding Small Business 26-150 Employees: Peoria Production Shop exists to provide people with disabilities the means to live financially and socially independent lives. They offer a full line of services including packaging, sewing, assembly, and more. Their 100-plus employees work in a modern facility and receive expert training. In the past five years, Peoria Production Shop’s sales have grown from $8.1 million to $12.3 million.

• Athena Award: Dr. Vicky Stewart is vice president of Planning and Organizational Effectiveness at Illinois Central College. For most of her career, Stewart has been involved in elementary and secondary education. She’s provided support through example, participation, and leadership. She actively participates in organizations that support women’s professions and issues. IBI