Chamber awards gala honors Allen County businesses, individual leaders

By John Bush -

Small Business of The Year award winner Real Living CCR Realtors.

Levi A. Morman | The Lima News

LIMA — Several business owners and individual leaders who Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce CEO Jed Metzger called “the economic engines of our community” were honored for their accomplishments Wednesday night at the chamber’s 15th annual awards gala.

A total of 18 area businesses and individuals were selected as finalists in six award categories, which included Small Business, Young Leader, Emerging Business, Woman Owned Business, Nonprofit Agency and the Athena Award, which recognizes individuals who help empower women to achieve success in their careers.

Alexa Miller, manager of Anytime Fitness in Lima, won the evening’s first award, Young Leader of the Year. Miller, who was up against Jessika Phillips and Jason Stolly, said it was an honor to be chosen among this group of young business leaders.

“They’re phenomenal people, and to be recognized with them is amazing,” Miller said.

The Emerging Business of the Year Award winner was Jameson Manor, a historic home that was converted into a private event venue in 2015. The business’ owner, Shannon Wannemacher, thanked her family, friends and husband for their support in her endeavor.

“I have to share this award with my unconditionally supportive and loving husband, Andy, who from the very beginning told me that this was a good idea, despite the investment required and the time it would take to make this project come to fruition,” Wannemacher said.

This year’s Woman Owned Business of the Year Award went to The Dough Hook, which is owned by Marlena Ballinger. She thanked her parents, who started this business, her husband, and her employees.

“They deserve this award just as much as I do,” Ballinger said. “I have the best employees in the world and I have the best parents in the world. I’m very blessed.”

Julianne Frankhouser, director of Guiding Light Ministries, accepted the Nonprofit of the Year Award on behalf of the organization.

“I’m so grateful that I’m here and I received this” award, Frankhouser said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I’m grateful.”

The Athena Award winner, who will be honored at another ceremony for the nation’s other Athena recipients, was Tammie Colon, a chief officer at Coleman Behavioral Health.

“Somewhere in the process of my career it was no longer an avenue for me to gain, but it was an avenue for me to give,” Colon said. “I started my career for me, but I want to declare to you that I’m going to end my career for Lima because I love Lima and I believe in Lima.”

The gala’s final honor was given to Real Living CCR Realtors, who won the Small Business of the Year Award. Owners Dino Guagenti and Maria Sanko accepted it together.

“We all care about taking care of people — it’s not about the money,” Sanko said. “It’s just about providing service and making everybody’s dreams come true. And tonight, I think ours did too.”

Small Business of The Year award winner Real Living CCR Realtors. Business of The Year award winner Real Living CCR Realtors. Levi A. Morman | The Lima News

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.