The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 18, 2013

Growth Partnership honors the best of Ashtabula County

By STACY MILLBERG - smillberg@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County hosted its annual Best of the County Awards Tuesday, honoring several local businesses and individuals for their contributions to Ashtabula County.

“It’s always an honor for Growth Partnership to host these awards,” said Growth Partnership Executive Director Brian Anderson. “I want to thank everyone for their contributions to the Ashtabula County economy over the last 25 years and look forward to the next 25.”

Anderson said in the next few years, he expects to see a number of new businesses and industries make Ashtabula County their home. He described the current economy in the county as opportunity.

“The real work of Growth Partnership begins tomorrow as we work to capitalize on these new opportunities,” he said.

Former Conneaut Mayor Lewis Shiley was this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ashtabula County Commissioner Joe Moroski presented Shiley with the award, saying Shiley has always shown a drive to succeed at life.

“He has truly lived the Growth Partnership mission throughout his career,” he said.

Shiley brought Infinity Resources into Conneaut and Ashtabula 20 years ago as a managing partner. Since that time, he has expanded the company’s offices into Jefferson, Painesville, Erie and Northeast, Pa. and last year into Portage County in Kent.

Shiley started out his career as a shoe-shine boy and over the years has been a true entrepreneur. He said it all started in Ashtabula County and he is committed to making it a better place to live and work.

“We hear negatives, but there’s much more positives in Ashtabula County,” Shiley said. “From my first job at shining shoes to my present day life, it has been rewarding.”

Shiley said if one would read his resume, they would wonder if he was able to focus on just one thing.

“From shoe-shine boy to forever entrepreneur, it all started in Ashtabula County,” he said. “Please join me in making this place the very best it can be.”

Shiley said people tend to forget about the great things they have in the county right at their fingertips.

“We all have something to offer,” he said. “Let’s be our county’s biggest fan, not its critic.”

This year’s recipient of the George H. Kaull Award for Entrepreneurship was Nate Rockwell and John Senger, owners of Briquettes Smokehouse in the Ashtabula Harbor.

The Community Impact Award was awarded to the City of Geneva for its work with the Arthur Louis Steel expansion.

Several local businesses were also recognized in three categories of the Business Excellence Award.

Receiving the Business Excellence Award for companies with less than 50 employees was ID Networks. The recipient for companies with 50 to 150 employees was Worthington Cylinders and the recipient for companies with more than 150 employees was GMR Technology and Zehrco Giancola Composites.

Also nominated for the Business Excellence Award were Snodgrass of Northeast Ohio and Griffiths Furniture TV and Appliances (less than 50 employees), Save A Lot Distribution Center and Lake City Plating (50 to 150 employees), and Kennametal (more than 150 employees).

Nominees for the George H. Kall Award for Entrepreneurship included Thomas Fence and Mega-Byte Computer Service. The Community Impact Award finalists were Western Reserve Farm Cooperative and Saint John School.