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Sycamore celebrates business leaders

January 27, 2017 GMT

SYCAMORE – When Joel Barczak was told he would receive the 2016 Clifford Danielson Outstanding Citizen Award, he said he thought it was a “bad post-election joke.”

“We received our first business loan directly from Mr. Danielson,” he said. “As I’ve said before, I thought that was winning the Danielson Award.”

Barczak, owner of Blumen Gardens in Sycamore, accepted the award in front of nearly 400 people Thursday at St. Mary’s Memorial Hall during the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce’s 102nd annual meeting.

The meeting honored Barczak as well as four local businesses that contributed to Sycamore’s economic success in the past year.

Barczak said he was more nervous asking Danielson for a loan at the bank than he was while speaking to the crowd to accept the award in his name.

“He believed in us, and he gave us the possibility of opportunities,” Barczak said. “And I believe that’s what Sycamore is about, and that’s what makes this award so special to us.”

Rose Treml, executive director of the Sycamore Chamber, said the award was named in honor of Danielson, who was a leader in the Sycamore business community for 70 years.

“The award recognizes individuals who strive to the highest level of professional accomplishment and have devoted time and energy to helping others,” she said.

Mayor Ken Mundy recalled how Blumen Gardens has evolved since 1989, when it was a small garden design business, to the full service landscaping company with a year-round garden center that it is today.

“What began as a humble horticultural endeavor in the Barczaks’ backyard has grown into an award-winning landscape design business,” Mundy said. “It now inhabits over 4,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.”

Resource Bank received the Discover Diamond Award for restoring the historic fieldstone building it occupies at 351 N. Main St. The bank restored the more than 110-year-old building to its original look as a garage, and added faux gas pumps as a nod to its past use as a filling station. The building was also home to several restaurants over the years.

Bank President Richard Katz said learning how the building has touched people’s lives over the years has been fascinating.

“Whether it is filling up their gas tanks or a remembrance of their car being repaired or their windshield being washed or breaking bread at one of the restaurants that have occupied it for many years, everybody has had an experience there,” Katz said.

Culver’s received the Spirit of Small Business Award for providing employment opportunities to adults with disabilities and students in Sycamore.

“This has never been a job for us,” owner Amanda Corona said. “This has been what we love doing. We could not do it without our team.”

Frontier Communications received the Chamber Champion Award for outstanding contributions to the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce.

“They continue to be an essential partner and resource for our community and the Sycamore Chamber,” Treml said. “Their employees have served as leaders for the chamber, and it is the dedication and involvement that allows us to succeed.”

Hy-Vee received the Outstanding Business of the Year Award for having a positive influence on Sycamore’s economy.

Treml said Hy-Vee has “enhanced the quality of life in Sycamore” through job growth and investing and building collaborations in the community.

Chamber President Grant Goltz said he will be committing to his position on the chamber again for 2017. He is the vice president of commercial lending at First State Bank in DeKalb and Sycamore.

Goltz said the chamber plans reach out to local businesses and ask questions about what it can do to retain members. He said it also will continue providing networking opportunities and advocating for members.

“Going forward into 2017, we plan to do a lot more listening from our existing and potential chamber members,” he said.