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My maternal grandfather, Ralph E. Miller, used to work in the steel mills of Ohio, back when there used to be steel mills in Ohio. His job was to show up each morning with his tool box, then go to whichever facility he was dispatched to fix whatever was broken.
He was not an engineer; I doubt he finished high school. But he would go to the designated trouble spot, take a look at the problem, light up a cigarette and cogitate on it a bit, then set to work.
My grandfather was all about knowing how things were put together, how the parts worked in unison - or didn't. (He also believed cars shouldn't have radios in them because they were distracting to drivers. So I'm not saying he was right about everything.)
But, coming relatively close on the many-footed heels of this year's Iowa Ideas Conference, Oct. 3 and 4 - with its 220 panelists speakers and, as of this date, 500-plus attendees - you'd think pulling together our fifth-annual Gazette Business Awards banquet about three weeks later, on Oct. 29, would be - again, relatively - a brisk canter through the park.
How much work, Ralph E. Miller would ask, could planning such an event like that take?
It is true that, for some components of this year's business awards, we're not rejiggering.
Once again, our banquet will be held at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center's nifty ballroom, where we'll gather to eat, drink, network and present a score of awards to well-deserving for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that have marked achievements here in the Corridor within the designated time frame - July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.
And we had judges to help us decide on this year's recipients. On our panel were Jamie Toledo of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance; diversity, equity and inclusion consultant Oather Taylor III; and John Wasta of Tallgrass.
But I confess, we did upgrade our selection process. Along with the submitted nominations - some organizations self-nominated, some were put forth by vendors or customers - we also added to the mix businesses we at The Gazette had reported on throughout the year - organizations whose achievements merited news articles and features and were widely read on TheGazette.com.
As you peruse the list of our 2019 recipients, you'll look at their accomplishments and say, Oh, yeah, that was pretty neat. For others, you might think, Gosh, I didn't know about that ….
Another tradition-but-with-a-twist we kept from 2018? Instead of a single-speaker keynote, we've invited three well-known business professionals to share some big - and we mean big - ideas for the Corridor. What should we be thinking about? How big is too big? And, why aren't we doing that now?
Our prognosticating panelists will be Ron Corbett of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Kirkwood Community College President Lori Sundberg and Kevin Monson of Neumann Monson Architects. Gazette reporter B.A. Morelli will be the moderator.
Last year, you'll recall, our keynote panel - discussing millennials in management - was well received by attendees.
Last year's banquet saw some 200 or more attendees, and TrueNorth will be the presenting sponsor this year. I'll be co-emceeing, once more with Alisabeth Von Presley, touring musician. You should come. Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Toolboxes not required.
For tickets or to reserve a table, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gazette-business-awards-tickets-73704904353 or call (319) 398-8345.
Comments: (319) 398-5873; email@example.com
2019 Gazette Business Awards recipients
Eric Langston, Nate Kaeding
Commercial Real Estate:
Q4 Real Estate
Residential Real Estate:
Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
Made in the Corridor:
Eastern Iowa Health Center
Food and Drink:
Wild Culture Kombucha
Eastern Iowa Airport
NewBo City Market
Better Business Bureau Business of Excellence Award:
Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust