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updated: 9/28/2018 2:06 PM

Suburban entrepreneurs honored for sacrifice, success

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  • Award winners Jim and Kristine Blessing of 151 Kitchen and Bar at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winners Jim and Kristine Blessing of 151 Kitchen and Bar at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Award winner Heidi Files of Energy City Brewing at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winner Heidi Files of Energy City Brewing at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Award winners Matthew and Amy Goles of Prairie Wellness Counseling Center at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winners Matthew and Amy Goles of Prairie Wellness Counseling Center at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Award winner Gene Faut of 3-D Exhibits has his award accepted by Cole Hauschildt and Stephanie Boerema at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winner Gene Faut of 3-D Exhibits has his award accepted by Cole Hauschildt and Stephanie Boerema at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Award winner Brad Parker of the Parker Restaurant Group in Chicago with Jill Kramer at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winner Brad Parker of the Parker Restaurant Group in Chicago with Jill Kramer at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Award winner Gary Gregg of the Austin-Gregg Corporation at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winner Gary Gregg of the Austin-Gregg Corporation at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Award winner Robert Hansen of the Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center with award accepted by Holly Deitchman of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.

    Award winner Robert Hansen of the Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center with award accepted by Holly Deitchman of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce at the EEA (Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards) on Thursday in Elk Grove.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Twenty suburban business owners were recognized for their entrepreneurial spirit and success at the 19th annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards, hosted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger and its sponsoring partners Thursday evening.

About 100 people attended the event at Belvedere Events and Banquets in Elk Grove Village and heard inspiring stories about the honorees' success.

The Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards recognize business people in the six-county suburban Chicago region who demonstrate the best traits of entrepreneurship, including willingness to take risk, drive, perseverance and business creativity. The honorees were selected from nominations submitted by their peers and examined by a panel of Business Ledger staff members. Companies selected for the awards must be based in or have a significant presence in the suburbs.

John R. Dallas Jr., CEO and co-founder of ENCLAVE for Entrepreneurs, a not-for-profit economic development education initiative in Elk Grove Village, spoke to the group about the sacrifice entrepreneurs make to turn an idea into a business, and make that business grow.

"It is personal, very very personal, this thing called entrepreneurship," Dallas said, noting that most entrepreneurs are not motivated by money, but for developing a sense of significance.

Dallas said the zeitgeist that defines business in the Chicago area is set in an aura of dependence that has not changed since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. "We need to stop that dependence in order to grow," he said, adding that growing entrepreneurship, represented by the honorees, is moving the region into a new sense of independence.

"We are working on it," he said. "We are a symbol for the region and for the entire U.S."

Many of the honorees echoed the sacrifices and commitment involved in starting and growing a business, and thanked family, employees, friends and mentors who have supported them in their endeavors.

"Without all the Chicago support, we would not be able to do what we do today," said Brad Parker, owner of the Parker Restaurant Group in Chicago. "This validates all the hard work we put into it."

Jay Cash, owner of Sign A Rama in Libertyville, noted an trait all entrepreneurs have in common.

"We all sell the exact same thing," he said. "We all sell trust very well."

Kristine Blessing, who with her husband, Jim, was honored for their work with 151 Kitchen and Bar in Elmhurst, summed up the motivation expressed by all the honorees.

"We do it because we love it," Blessing said.

In addition to the honorees, a special Service to Entrepreneurs award was given to Jim Elsener, who founded the Business Ledger 25 years ago and ran the publication until it was bought by the Daily Herald Media Group in 2010. Elsener's efforts helped create the EEA and four other award programs that recognize outstanding businesses and business people.

Profiles of the honorees can be found in the October issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger, and online at dhbusinessledger.com.

Sponsoring partners for the event are B. Guenther and Co. of Lisle, Focus Capital Advisors of Downers Grove, Elk Grove Village and ENCLAVE for Entrepreneurs in Elk Grove Village.