SOMERS — Local businesses were honored Thursday as the Kenosha Area Business Alliance celebrated its 15th annual Ovation Awards.
A crowd of nearly 400 turned out for the event in the Student Center Ballroom at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Catalysts Exhibits Inc. was honored as the 2019 Business of the Year.
Kitchen Cubes LLC was named Small Business of the Year.
Mike Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Fair Oaks Farms, was honored as the Entrepreneur of the Year.
Forward Awards, presented to businesses and organizations that have exhibited financial growth, community influence and overall impact on the economy and area, included Advocate Aurora Health, the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, Kenosha County, UW-Parkside and SL Montevideo Inc.
Many of the winners commended their staffs' teamwork as well as the pro-business environment in the state and Kenosha County as key factors in their success.
"Every day something great happens in Kenosha County," County Executive Jim Kreuser told the audience.
The county has been fertile ground for many companies that have elected to establish operations here, including Haribo, and other companies that have either relocated here or expanded their operations here.
The audience learned that during a recent span of business growth that 10,000 jobs have been created and more than $2 billion of capital investment has been made in the county.
Jake McGhee, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, said a spirit of partnership has helped his organization. "Our goal is to give kids hope," he said.
Parkside Chancellor Deborah Ford explained how her campus is the most diverse in the University of Wisconsin system. She said 50 percent of the student body are transfer students. She added that 35 percent are from Kenosha County, and 30 percent are the first in their families to attend college.
The annual awards ceremony, formerly known as the "Business Excellence" awards and co-hosted by KABA and the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce, also provided attendees an opportunity to network, dine and learn more about companies and organizations that were making an impact in the community.