MERRILLVILLE | A group of young business leaders making a positive impact in their Northwest Indiana communities were honored at the annual 20 Under 40 awards hosted by The Times and BusINess magazine on Wednesday.
Since 2005, The Times Media Co. has annually honored 20 local young standouts in the community. This year’s leadership group featured a wide variety of difference-makers including Chris Stanek, general manager and co-owner of Crown Brewing.
“I feel like it’s good exposure just to show how much people in my business really feel like they’re part of their communities,” Stanek said. “It used to be 100 years ago everybody knew the people from the brewery. Every town had their own brewery and it was a big part of the community. I think it’s really starting to come back to that. It’s a job where I get to meet all sorts of people.”
Honorees joining Stanek at Innsbrook Country Club for the 20 Under 40 celebration included Ron Donahue, director of business development for Prompt Ambulance.
“It’s a humbling experience to be recognized for the work that all of us do and that we all give back to the community,” Donahue said. “I think it’s great to that the places we work for allow us to do that.”
Donahue said the event was also an opportunity to network with people he might not normally meet.
“I think it’s great we can connect,” he said. “Every event and opportunity leads to something else positive. This is great we’re able to meet with everybody tonight and get to know each other better.”
Julie Bombacino, founder and CEO of Just Food Blends, was able to learn about her fellow honorees and looked forward to meeting them.
“I had no idea LaPorte’s mayor (fellow honoree Blair Milo) was really young,” Bombacino said. “Everybody here is very impressive. It’s nice to have this meeting of people in the area who are doing spectacular things. It’s great that Northwest Indiana has this.”
Chris White, who took over as publisher of the Times Media Co. in August, called the event one of his favorites.
“We’ve done 20 Under 40 in the last couple markets I’ve been in,” he said. “Often I hear that this is good because we’re recognizing the leaders of tomorrow. We’re not. We’re recognizing the people who are really making things happen today. Reviewing the nominees was a great opportunity to look at the quality of folks that were nominated. It’s one more reason that I’m proud to have chosen to live in Northwest Indiana.”