The Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting in the renovated space on Friday, Sept. 28, with a catered lunch and speakers among more than 500 attendees.
“We were excited to find out their opening (of the Civic Center) coincided with our annual meeting; we thought it was a perfect opportunity to showcase both,” said Jodi Owczarski, vice president of the Chamber.
The annual meeting was the first event in the Civic Center after its $16.5 million renovation, which is set for a public grand opening and ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. It seemed to be a race to the finish getting things ready for the Chamber’s event.
“They were still painting when we got here this morning, but the space is beautiful,” Owczarski said.
Related: Take look at the first event inside Holland’s Civic Center
She added that the event sold out very quickly.
This year’s theme was “Inspire the Fire,” with the keynote speaker being Richard Montañez, creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Montañez spoke to attendees about the foundations which make a good leader.
He currently leads multicultural sales and marketing across Pepsi North American divisions, and began his career at Frito-Lay in 1976 as a janitor. The creation of the Flamin’ Hot line of products helped influence future ethnic products and the first Frito-Lay Hispanic marketing team, according to his biography.
Business Leadership Awards were also given for the 2018 year to two local businesses. The first was presented to Crazy Horse Steakhouse & Saloon. Owner Mark Herman, in accepting the award, brought his employees on stage with him, and said the award was for them. He talked about growing up in Mexico City, and compared that to his life today.
“I am truly living the dream,” he said.
The next award was given to Koops Inc., accepted by Paul Brinks, president and CEO. He said the Civic Center is “a great example of how our community comes together,” and discussed the unification of his team at Koops.