OTTAWA — This past Tuesday, February 4, the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual Member Appreciation Dinner. In addition to celebrating the successes of the past year, the event is where the area’s small and large ‘Business of the Year’ are revealed, as well as the individuals selected for the ‘4 Under 40’ award.

The chamber’s criteria for selecting their small and large business of the year includes demonstrating innovation in product, service, presentation and delivery; participation in professional development as well as participation in local, regional or national activities; a consistent display of honorable and ethical operations; and finally, a business that demonstrates pride in their service, operation and facility.

Nowhere does this criteria mention making a profit. Which is as it should be. Non-profit businesses are still businesses. They have clients and customers, short and long-term goals, and their success is often evaluated against stringent measurements, some of which are often financial. This is exactly the case for the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Small Business of the Year - The Leipsic Community Center.

When nominating TLCC for this honor, Janelle Herrera wrote, “The Leipsic Community Center operates solely to give back to the community. It is a selfless operation and is a blessing to those they serve. In the short time they’ve been open they have touched the lives of many people. With the help of donors and volunteers, they have numerous programs and daily activities, offer a free health clinic, host free community meals and the list goes on and on. The team at The Leipsic Community Center seems to always be searching for what they can add to better serve the surrounding communities.”

While TLCC receives this well-earned recognition only two years into its operations, 2019’s Large Business of the Year has a much longer legacy. UIS Insurance & Investments has been in business for 95 years.

“UIS Insurance & Investments stands out as a premier locally owned and operated regional insurance agency and is in the top 125 of privately owned independent insurance agencies in the United States,” according to information provided by the Chamber.

“One of the more unique aspects of a regional agency its size is that they are extremely committed to the communities where they operate. UIS has vested interest in each community by owning the buildings and property in each community and consistently reinvesting in its real estate.”

“Their owners and employees also live in the communities in which they work, with four owners living in Putnam County. As an agency, they encourage all staff to be active in the community and have set up what they call “UIS Cares.” They support a large number of causes and organizations through UIS Cares. They strive to keep employees passionate about their civic duties by giving them the freedom to share their time and talent within the communities they serve. The goal is to make a positive impact on the communities where they live, work and play.”

When nominating the professionals for the ‘4 Under 40’ award, the chamber seeks individuals that consistently demonstrate a commitment to their profession; dedication to fostering relationships, leadership activities and ongoing professional development; and a demonstration of philanthropic involvement in Putnam County.

Those Putnam County residents aged between 18-39 recognized with 2019’s 4 Under 40 award are Greg Beckman, owner of Beckman Jewelers; Gillian Stechschulte, Licensed Architect and Principal Partner with Technicon Design Group; Chef Kelly Wolfe, Executive Chef and Owner of Little Red Bakery; and Amber Mangas, Founder and President of the Putnam County Foundation and Realtor with HER Realtors.