During an evening full of fun, reflection, and gratitude, the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet, held June 11th, hit the mark at the FIRST big event since before the pandemic hit last March.
Attendees were treated to conversation and comradery as they enjoyed the evening’s festivities which included dinner, networking, auctions, and a live band. In addition, the Chamber presented the following awards to deserving businesses and individuals. Award winners were selected by past winners of the various awards shown below:
Timberline Bank, Business of the Year
Started in 2005, Timberline Bank has a 17-year history of serving the Grand Valley. During the pandemic the financial institution processed 2.157 PPP loans putting close to $200 million into local businesses. This locally owned and operated bank has had a giving back to the community spirit since it opened its doors. In just the past two years alone, this bank has given over $300,000 in sponsorships and donations to local organizations and by granting community requests. Everyone from the bank president to the bank teller…all team members at Timberline are involved in some way with volunteering their time…whether it is serving on the Riverside Education Board, The Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, the Young Professionals Network or by coaching and mentoring our youth.
Mobility Driven, Small Business of the Year
Robert Dittmer launched Mobility Driven in 2015 and his team now serve clients with mobility issues in several states, giving them options to make their homes more accessible, adapting their vehicles for transportation and the company is now leading the industry by innovating recreational vehicles. In the course of this work, it has been important for the company owner to work alongside community organizations and agencies to not only provide adaptive equipment but to help individuals navigate and find the right equipment to keep them living their lives to the fullest. Born and raised in Grand Junction, Robert believes strongly in a business owner’s role to give back and be active in the community. He sits on the board of Blood Brothers, an organization dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals living with a physical disability by restoring physical freedom, mobility and independence. He sponsors and partners with Colorado Disability. The company also sponsors the Downtown car show.
Emma Leenerman, Young Professional of the Year
At the beginning of the global pandemic, Emma volunteered to be uprooted from her normal duties as Colorado Mesa University’s (CMU) Coordinator of Alumni Engagement and tackle the university’s COVID-19 testing efforts for the entire CMU Campus. CMU heavily depended on the accuracy and efficiency of this testing center to minimize the interruption for in-person learning and to ultimately lighten the burden of Mesa County’s testing center. Emma was able to lead a COVID testing site that administered over 80,000, tests; most of which were given voluntarily, at random, and in response to different triggers, but all of them collectively keeping CMU open and operating in a normal manner. Emma also sits on various boards across the community and has a passion and desire to see a connected community thriving in every area.
Jeff Kuhr, Citizen of the Year
Jeff has the unique vision that community health includes economic health, something that is rare in a public health official. Because of his holistic view and approach, Mesa County was spared the worst of the economic fallout of closures of small businesses and loss of jobs. The “intentional partnership” with the Chamber and the media led to the creation of a groundbreaking and innovative program that incentivized workplaces to implement best practices in health and safety. While very visible and admired, the Five Star Program is not the only innovative and creative way in which Jeff managed the double threat to physical and economic health and served the community. Establishing multiple testing sites, standing up the vaccination mega site in the very rooms where we celebrate tonight, the work he did with Colorado Mesa University and School District 51to keep schools open and learning in person for most of the past year are not just remarkable but unique when compared to the rest of the state and the region. Jeff’s approach of finding ways to get to “yes” for events like our farmers markets and high school graduations benefitted each and every one of us here and throughout the county this past year.