Orion Area Chamber Celebrates 2022 Impact Awards
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 5, 2022)
Lake Orion, MI – For just a couple minutes, the audience at the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce 2022 Impact Awards Luncheon were swept away to a happy little place dubbed Mr. Johnson’s Neighborhood. Opening with an aerial shot of Downtown Lake Orion, and a rather familiar musically accompaniment, a video followed the 2022 Business Person of the Year – Jimmy Johnson – as he entered the Graphic Takeover offices and swapped sweaters and caps while saying “Hello Orion neighbors,” and “How are you today?”
The video was one of several created by Orion ONTV to honor the winners. Over 100 neighbors and fellow entrepreneurs gathered for the occasion, delighting in the successes of their friends and getting a good chuckle out of Johnson’s Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood parody.
They also enjoyed hearing from Wayne Haney of Haney Farm Bureau as he introduced the Lake Orion Sunrise Rotary who won the Community Beautification Award for their creation of a pollinator garden along the Polly Ann Trail, near the Orion Township Library. Haney thanked Home Depot for assisting with the project, and Rotarian Barkley Pierce for leading the effort to create the “oasis of color along the Polly Ann Trail” that helps support bees and other creatures that are part of a thriving ecosystem. “Our motto and primary principle is ‘service above self,'” Haney said.
2022 Entrepreneur of the Year Rachel West is also helping to make the community beautiful with the services offered at Malie Therapeutic. Cory Thompson of Red Oak Refillery introduced West, saying “In just one year she has exploded her business by hiring five employees and completing a build-out of her business…She started offering just a few types of massage. Now in addition her practice offers facials, chemical peels, waxing, lashes and tints, cupping, couples massage, couples facials, prenatal massage, and she even does in-home parties.” West opened Malie Therapeutic on Lapeer Road in Oxford in 2021, at the age of 21.
What community could be complete without the women and men who keep it safe? This year’s ceremony included an award for Jennifer Eriksen of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office who works with Lake Orion Schools. She earned the Youth Impact Award. Melisa Counelis of Counelis Agency Farm Bureau Insurance said of Eriksen, “Jen has a huge heart in Lake Orion and does her best to protect the children we know and love on a daily basis. Her job is not easy. She regularly deals with tough situations and she always does it with compassion and a mamma bear mentality.”
In addition to her day job with the OCSO, Eriksen is a board member for the North Oakland Coalition, which helps prevent substance use by young people. She also does presentations on the perils of vaping, and education about being safe while using social media.
The Economic Impact Award went to a company that has made a huge investment in the community this year – General Motors Orion Assembly. Steve Wandrie of Caliber Home Loans presented the award. “GM recently announced an investment of $4 billion to upgrade the existing facility to build the new Chevy Silerado EV and Sierra EV,” Wandrie said. “The expansion is expected to create more than 2350 new jobs at the Orion Plant and maintain about 1,000 current jobs. GM’s investment in the community adds vibrancy to Orion as smaller businesses will benefit from the investment as more people come to Orion to work or visit the plant.”
Plant Director Rupert Jones accepted the award. “From our beginnings nearly 40 years ago…Orion Assembly has been an important fixture in the community… It’s easy for a large facility to overwhelm a small town, but Orion Assembly is just another neighborhood within Orion Township.
Not only were the Impact Awards an opportunity to celebrate great businesses, it was a chance for members to meet the new Director of the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce Joyce Donaldson, who started the position just weeks before the event.
Donaldson began her Chamber career at the Romeo-Washington Chamber of Commerce in Michigan. She served as Executive director for nearly seven years before moving to the Coachella Valley in California. Donaldson served as the President and CEO of the Indio Chamber of Commerce for five years and achieved Four-Star Accreditation from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. She recently returned to Michigan and is excited to be serving the Orion Area.
Learn more about the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce at http://www.orionareachamber.com/