Flint, MI—More than 450 attendees gathered at the Capitol Theatre on Nov. 4 to celebrate exceptional businesses and community leaders in Flint and Genesee County.

“Tonight’s nominees and award recipients are companies, hospitality and nonprofit organizations, and individuals who give more than what’s asked,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Group, which organizes the Art of Achievement Awards. 

“They really care about this community. They have great sense of responsibility. They are often risk takers. And they have such a positive attitude.”

The ceremony, now in its seventh year, included honors in 16 categories ranging from “Hotel of the Year” to “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion”—a new award.

“I’m truly humbled to accept this award,” said Dena Craine, owner and president of ClearView Building Maintenance, who won the DEI Champion award. 

Master of Ceremonies Leanne Panduren noted ClearView had worked with the Small Business Development Center to develop a policy “for hiring and welcoming residents seeking work after having been incarcerated” and has also become known “as a safe and welcoming place of employment for transgender employees.”

The Flint & Genesee Group received nominations for around 70 businesses, hospitality workers, and community leaders for this year’s awards, said Andrew Younger, executive director of the Flint & Genesee Chamber. The evening’s winners were then selected by one of two panels of judges.

Awardees in the hospitality categories were chosen by the Explore Flint & Genesee Advisory Committee and those in the business categories were chosen by Flint & Genesee Chamber members from across Genesee County, which Tim Herman noted in his opening remarks represented “business, academic, and nonprofit sectors.”

Director of the Flint Public Art Project Joseph Schipani recieves the Flint & Genesee Group Art of Achievement award for Attraction of the Year on Nov. 4, 2021, at the Capitol Theater in Downtown Flint, Mich. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

The ceremony was not held last year due to COVID-19 (the Group instead put together a Twenty in ‘20 list) and this year’s celebration felt particularly jubilent.

The event featured a “red carpet” entrance with photographers, its largest guest count yet, and a stage framed by lush floral arrangements, sparkling blue linens, and rows of etched glass awards for the evening’s winners.

“The red carpet was good enough, but we’ll take it,” joked Linette Ramos de Soto, owner of Breads and Threads Handmade, as she accepted the “Minority-Owned Business Award.” 

After all 16 awards were given out, Herman again took the podium to end the evening. 

“The great, positive stories we’ve heard here tonight is continued evidence of why we’re optimistic about the future of Flint and Genesee,” he said.

All of the 2021 Art of Achievement award winners are as follows:

  • Hotel of the Year – Hilton Garden Inn Flint Downtown
  • Frontline Ambassador of the Year Award – Antoinetta Green, of McFarlan Villages
  • Restaurants of the Year – Barley & Vine and The Laundry
  • Hotel Ambassador of the Year Award – Geri Geske, Hampton Inn & Suites Flint/Grand Blanc
  • Attraction of the Year Award – Flint Public Art Project
  • Gloria DeHart Community Champion Award – Jack Stock, Kettering University
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion – ClearView Building Maintenance
  • Business Impact Award – SERVPRO of Northwest Genesee County & Fenton
  • Economic Development Project of the Year Award – Allegiant Air
  • Small Business Award – Great Harvest Bread Co.
  • Minority Owned Business Award – Breads & Threads Handmade
  • Nonprofit Impact Award – Food Bank of Eastern Michigan
  • Young Professional Leader Award – Tauzzari Robinson, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint
  • Claire M. White Award – Reta Stanley, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint & Genesee County
  • Art Hurand Award – Greg Viener, Huntington Bank Mid-Michigan Region
  • Charles Stewart Mott Award – Sister Carol Weber and Sister Judy Blake, St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center

Kate Stockrahm

Kate is Flint Beat's business and nonprofit reporter. She joins the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered...

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