Eastern Michigan University’s inaugural Business of the Year Awards Luncheon Friday afternoon was only missing the red carpet walkway to differentiate itself from a Hollywood awards gala. Held in EMU’s Student Center Ballroom, the ceremony featured an audio-visual presentation, a collection of awards presenters and a keynote speaker.
The assembled business professionals in the audience were blown away by the event, as they were drawn deeper into the affair by trying to guess the winners before they were announced and arguing among themselves about the results.
Tony Vanderworp of Washtenaw County’s Economic Development Department was in attendance.
“This is a great learning experience. I wish they did this when I was in college,” Vanderworp said.
Shirley Wentz, of EMU’s college of business, played an integral part in the success of the luncheon.
Wentz managed all of the details for the event, including registration, the venue, menu, flowers, trophies, signage and check-in. She put together a team of students to help with the Ballroom set up, placing copies of programs and candy bars on 500 chairs.
“Dean [Michael] Tidwell wanted ‘a big production,’” said Wentz. “In fact, he wanted an Oscar-like ambience to this event, even to the smallest detail; our Oscar, the Arise trophy. After all, this is our Oscars. He listened to his student advisors, who came up with the idea and plans for the awards luncheon, then allowed them to move forward with their ideas using their skills and abilities to pull this off. The event became a reality due to a well performing orchestra led by one conductor’s score. [It was a] job well done.”
What made the awards ceremony unique was that it was student-driven. Recent college of business graduate, Nicholas Schneider IV, was one of the students who first came up with idea for EMU to host their own awards ceremony.
“The idea was great,” Schneider said. “Having an opportunity to interact with businesses involved with the school will only help us along with our careers in the future. We developed the whole thing from the beginning. We came up with criteria for each award, then we looked for possible nominees and we took nominations from the Internet. After we got all the nominees in we sent them out for a vote and students were able to log in to the system and vote [for a winner].”
The Arise Award categories, nominees and winners were:
• Large Business
Nominees: Domino’s Pizza and Quicken Loans
Winner: Ford Motor Company
• Medium-Sized Business
Nominees: Taubman and TNG Worldwide
Winner: Crain’s Detroit Business
• Small BusinessNominees: Financial Services of America and VC Web Design Winner: Bearclaw Coffee Co.
• Social Enterprise
Nominees: Beyond Basics and SPARK
Winner: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Nominees: Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers
Winner: Plante Moran
• Financial Services
Nominees: Bank of Ann Arbor and Fifth Third Bank
Winner: Quicken Loans
Nominees: eDetroit and Team Detroit
Nominees: Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Health System
Winner: St. Joseph Mercy Health System
Nominees: England Logistics SCM and Universal Truckload Services
Nominees: Busch’s Market and Taubman
Nominees: Kellogg Company and Masco
Winner: Ford Motor Company
• Human Resources
Nominees: Impact Management Services and Rapid Global Business Solutions
Winner: Kelly Services
• Information Technology
Nominees: OpTech Inc. and Syntel
Winner: Compuware Corporation
• Alumni-Owned Business
Nominees: Menlo Innovations and Talmer Bank and Trust
Winner: Pure Visibility
Dean of the school of business, Michael Tidwell, gave the opening monologue.
“We’re looking to build relationships [with local businesses],” Tidwell said of the awards luncheon.
“This is 100% about the students, the student-based nominations and the students who ultimately selected the winners. I want businesses to know that we have a strong student body, wonderful graduates and that they can make an impact in their companies.”
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