Young Business Owners

Every year business members of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce nominate their peers for a Small Business of the Year Award, the business community’s way of recognizing outstanding work done of, for, and by it’s members.

This year, the chamber is continuing that tradition, but with a few changes.

“Typically, we had it capped at 100 employees and this year we opened it to 500 employees,” said Nicki Anderson, President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses are looking a little bit different. It isn’t just the three or four employees. Small business is really growing and changing and the definition is a little different.”

Another change is the addition of two new categories: Woman Owned Business and Young Professional Business Owner. The Young Professional category nominees are three men Matthew Rasche, Mike Healy, and Zak Kates.

Rasche, 27, owns Bull & Bear Tobacco shop downtown. Beyond selling tobacco, it gives customers a place to congregate and socialize. Rasche credits his loyal customers for his business success.

“As much as I would like to say it’s just us behind what we’ve been able to do and build this store, what it really means is it’s a reflection on our customers,” said Rasche. “If it wasn’t for them we would just be here waiting by the cash register. It’s really our customers who have allowed us to get to the point that we are at.”

Mike Healy, 27, started Velocity Energy Group that helps commercial and industrial companies in the procurement process of electricity and natural gas. Healy was humbled by the peer recognition.

“To think of the past award winners in other categories, those people have done many things in the chamber. It made me blush to think someone thought of my business in that light,” said Healy.

The final nominee is Zak Kates of Simple Edge Marketing, a web design company that specializes in customized web development. We were unable to reach Kates for an interview.

The winners in all six categories are chosen by a committee made up of last year’s winners. The chamber hopes by adding this new category of recognition, it will help cultivate strong members for years to come.

“This was a great opportunity to connect with those business professional and say we recognize your talent and hard work,” said Anderson. “And [we are] hoping this might be the stepping stone for them to become an advocate for the chamber or an active member of the chamber.”

“This was a great opportunity to connect with those business professional and say we recognize your talent and hard work and hoping this might be the stepping stone for them to become an advocate for the chamber or an active member of the chamber,” said Anderson.

Mayor Pradel will also be awarded the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual event on May 30.

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