Community and business leaders throughout Chelsea came together Thursday to honor two of their own during the annual membership meeting of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce.
This year's guests of honor were the Purple Rose Theatre, founded by Hollywood actor Jeff Daniels; and Chelsea Lanes, owned and operated by the GreenLeaf family. The businesses were recepients of the 2012 Large Business and Small Business of the Year, respectively.
In presenting the Small Business Award to Eddie GreenLeaf, owner of Chelsea Lanes, CACC President Bruce Szcodronski said he could not think of a better recipient.
"I can't imagine any other organization that symbolizes what small business is about," Szcodronski said.
Mayor Jason Lindauer echoed Szcodronski by thanking GreenLeaf for Chelsea Lanes' commitment to area youth over the years, both as a business employer and as head coach of the Chelsea High School bowling team.
"Many of us here hold the GreenLeaf family in such high regard due to their commitment to our children and to the future of our city," Lindauer said. "Truly Eddie's dedication is an inspiring example of all that makes Chelsea so rich and so warm."
In addition to operating Chelsea Lanes, GreenLeaf also serves as a member of the Chelsea Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, and Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce.
"I'm so proud and humbled to be accepting this award," GreenLeaf said. "Throughout the past 50 years, (Chelsea Lanes) has turned over a lot of young people who came for their first jobs and have since gone on to do bigger and better things. Without that storied history, we wouldn't be the people, or the family, or business that we are."
Purple Rose is pride of Chelsea
For the past 20 years, the Purple Rose Theatre has been delighting audiences with its live stage performances. The business' prestige has managed to attract politicians, actors, and tourists across the country to Chelsea.
"In thinking about the impact that the Purple Rose Theatre has brought to the importance of arts in this part of the country, one is easily drawn to the compelling economic force that the company has become," Lindauer said. "Forty-thousand theater goers — virtually nine times the population of this city — come to enjoy this truly unique experience every year.
"For the last two decades, the thousands that now share a fondness for the Purple Rose Theatre have become ambassadors for its existence that we take so much pride and pleasure in Chelsea."
While accepting the Large Business of the Year Award, PRTC Artistic Director Guy Sanville announced that the theater is planning to add 32 new employees this year in addition to its current compliment of 15 full-time artisan residents, understudies, and employees.
"This award was really a nice surprise. It has affected us in a great way," Sanville said. "On behalf of the staff we will continue to dedicate ourselves everyday to deserve this honor. We are thrilled to be part of this community and part of this business community."
According to Bob Pierce, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce, the business awards are presented to two chamber members that demonstrate an ability to advocate for the business community and promote and develop a vital business environment in Chelsea.
Businesses are selected through a public nomination process and voted on by past award recipients. Criteria for the award includes any business that displays innovative ideas and services; contributes to the economic impact of the city; provides services that meet the needs of the Chelsea area community; and enhances the uniqueness of the community image.
[Watch the award acceptance speeches on Chelsea Patch's Facebook page]