Special to The Source
The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce gave out four awards at their recent annual meeting event.
“SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – UNDER 25 EMPLOYEES”
The 2022 Business of the Year with Less than 25 employees is Express Employment Professionals of Jacksonville.
Express Employment Professionals is a leading employment firm helping job seekers find work with a wide variety of local businesses. In the 8 years it has been in Jacksonville, Express has put nearly 1000 people to work in 110 local businesses and organizations.
The organization has worked tirelessly since COVID-19 to assist local businesses in recruiting talent to fill the large number of opportunities available. They have put together several successful citywide job fairs attracting fifty employers and hundreds of job seekers. They have doubled their staff size in the last year due to business growth.
As a 150% Club member of the chamber since opening in Jacksonville, Express Employment Professionals has been a wonderful supporter of Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce events including golf outings, the steak fry and the annual meeting. They have hosted a ‘Business After Hours’ and enjoyed a ribbon cutting at their brand-new location in Lincoln Square. Their staff has shown great volunteerism with participation on chamber committees and the chamber board plus attendance at various events.
We thank franchise owners Jim, Carole, Zac and JT Britton, and Kayla Edwards for their commitment to Jacksonville and for assembling such a great team at this location. Jacksonville manager Joe Lockman accepted the award.
“BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – 25 OR MORE EMPLOYEES”
Cedarhurst of Jacksonville is the 2022 Large Business of the Year award winner.
Cedarhurst opened in September 2016 and expanded their facility in 2020. Since then, they have continued to open their doors to seniors in the community with their assisted living and memory care options. The average number of seniors living in the Cedarhurst community in 2022 was 82 with an average age of 93 years.
Cedarhurst employs 60-65 employees from our local community and area. Resident restaurant outings and weekly shopping trips support local businesses. “Chamber Check” and local gift card incentive programs and employee gifts are also utilized by Cedarhurst.
Cedarhurst residents and families raise money for local food pantries, a local classroom and ring bells for The Salvation Army. Local organizations supported by Cedarhurst include Jacksonville Symphony Society, Jacksonville Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Jacksonville, Bob Freesen YMCA and others. Cedarhurst is a great supporter of the chamber with sponsorship of annual meeting, golf outings and participation and attendance at meetings and events. Director Shelly Shillings accepted the award.
“NOT-FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS OF THE YEAR”
This year’s Not for Profit Business of the Year has turned a vision into reality during the past 20 plus years.
Officially beginning in 1999, Jacksonville Main Street had a vision of revitalizing a struggling downtown into a new and vibrant centerpiece of the Jacksonville area.
Now seen as a vital part of the community, downtown Jacksonville has begun to flourish, with several rehabilitation projects, more public and private partnerships, many new businesses and expansions, and enhanced promotional events that contribute to its continued growth and development.
Jacksonville Main Street devotes 100% of its resources to promoting and improving downtown! Their mission is to enhance the quality of life, cultivate the historic integrity, and help businesses thrive through partnerships and programming in downtown Jacksonville. Since inception, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) has helped reduce vacancy rates, grow businesses and build partnerships within the community with award-winning results. A Great American Main Street Award winner, Jacksonville Main Street has supplied over $150,000 in enhancements to the historic downtown commercial district. Funds are raised through year-round events, donations and occasional grants for projects. The chamber appreciates its great working relationship with Jacksonville Main Street and applauds the work done by Judy Tighe, Melissa Hebron, their board of directors and volunteers to continue the vibrancy and economic development of our wonderful downtown.
Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe accepted the award.
“CIRCLE OF EXCELLENCE”
The winner of the Circle of Excellence award is Keith Lape.
In order to receive the Circle of Excellence recognition, the nominee must be retired from an active chamber business. The nominee must have served the chamber on a committee, as a board member or as chair with a provable record of contributions to the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce that have made a difference in furthering the goals of the chamber. A Circle of Excellence nominee must also have provided at least 10 years of service to the chamber.
Keith Lape was born on the Lape Family Farm in Fayette County, southeast of Vandalia. He is the fifth-generation owner of the farm purchased in 1850. Although he doesn’t live there, he travels weekly to mow the 5-6 acres and enjoys overseeing improvements made to the farm.
Lape is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He has his PhD from Southern Illinois University. He worked in education his entire career, beginning as a science teacher at Galesburg Public Schools in 1959. From there, he moved to Mattoon school district and then on to the Illinois State Board of Education as director of adult education. Next, he became director of programs for the ICCB and then came to Jacksonville to MacMurray College in 1984, where he created the education programming for the prisons. Rend Lake College took him away from Jacksonville for four years to serve as their VP and president, but Jacksonville and MacMurray called again in 1992, where he served as VP for continuing education and graduate studies for 10 years before retiring as emeritus.
Many organizations have benefited from Lape’s leadership expertise. He served as an appointed member of the Jacksonville School District #117 Board of Education and has been a long-standing member of the Jacksonville Rotary Club since 1992, serving as president before moving on to the district governor in 2005. He presently serves on the district scholarship committee.
He was a founder of the Passavant Hospital Foundation and served on the Passavant Farm Committee. He is also a member of the IDOC advisory board, Network Knowledge chair, IL Community College System and First Presbyterian Church.
Lape served as chamber chair during a very tough 2020. During that time, he suffered an injury that required multiple surgeries. Anyone else would have resigned, but Lape pushed forward all the while apologizing for not being so active. He and wife Phyllis are strong supporters of the chamber and continue to remain active in chamber events.
Lape will tell you that he and his family could have lived in many different places but picked Jacksonville because of their love for this community and its people. His life has been one of excellence — in family, community and civic achievements.
He and wife Phyllis will celebrate 65 years of marriage in July. They have two daughters, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.