PCBC honors local businesses, business leaders

By Patrick Lynn

Two local businesses, one individual, and one organization were recognized with honors at the annual Portage Co. Business Council awards banquet.

The annual dinner and awards banquet was held on June 15 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center in Stevens Point.

The Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to the entire 25-member PCBC Ambassador Club, whose members spent over 1,500 hours of volunteer time attending ribbon cuttings, grand openings, groundbreaking ceremonies, Business After Hours, Women in Business, and many other events, on behalf of the PCBC. The club also monthly committee meetings, rang bells for Salvation Army, donated holiday baskets to needy families, and sent hundreds of Santa letters to children all over the state.

The Small Business of the Year Award was presented to Bria Bella & Co. owner Tara Manzke, whose store is located at 925 Main St. Bria Bella & Co. was selected from several nominees based on their growth and financial stability, dedication to customer service, and community needs, personal commitment, and innovative efforts to identify a market niche.

“The store has grown significantly since its first year of only having two racks of clothing available for sale,” a news release from PCBC reads in part. “Their product selection has also grown from career and casual women’s attire to include outerwear, formal wear, men’s suits, and tuxedo rental.”

The Decree of Excellence Award was presented to Worzalla, who recently announced Phase III of their modernization plan to upgrade their manufacturing headquarters in Stevens Point. Its $10 million investment will add additional print capacity for the U.S. book market. Totaling previous improvements made during other phases of the modernization plan, Worzalla has invested $30 million to upgrade its facilities and create jobs in Portage County. For its Phase III expansion alone, Worzalla is adding 40 new positions.

Worzalla was listed in the 2021 Printing Impression’s annual printing industry rankings report as the fourth-largest North American book printer, as well as the 63rd-largets printer in North America by annual sales.

The President’s Award was presented to Craig Gerlach, Superintendent of the Stevens Point Area Public School District, who joined the district in 2016.

“Since that time, he has vastly changed the climate and culture of the district, securing vital resources to support the educational programs and facilities through facility and operational referenda,” the press release reads. “He was chosen for this award based on his extraordinary job leading our community and our students through a great deal of change and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Representative Katrina Shankland and Senator Patrick Testin were in attendance at the event to hand out State of Wisconsin proclamations to the award recipients.

“(Recipients’) dedication to bettering our local community is another element that makes all four award winners unique and valuable parts of the Portage County community,” said Karen Myers, Director of Programs & Events at PCBC. “We salute their work and congratulate them on these well-deserved awards.”

The presenting sponsor of the event was TDS. Other sponsors include Ascension, CliftonLarsonAllen, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Herrschners Inc., Investors Community Bank, Keller, Inc., KerberRose Certified Public Accountants, Sentry, Simplicity Credit Union, Steel King Industries, The Dirks Group, Van Horn Nissan of Stevens Point, and WoodTrust Bank.