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Celebrating Important Things!

Celebrating Important Things!
March 6, 2024 Billy George

On February 22, the Greater Freeport Partnership hosted its annual dinner with over 200 in attendance. We made several changes to our traditional annual dinner format this year, not least of which was adding three awards for a total of nine awards presented during the evening. While many organizations are paring down the number of awards they are presenting, we feel strongly that recognizing the people and organizations that are doing important work is a key part of partnership.

The three awards we added have special significance to the work that we do. One of the new awards was Manufacturer of the Year. Manufacturing is a significant part of the Freeport and Stephenson County economy. This year’s winner, Berner Foods and Beverage, is not only a major employer in Stephenson County but has also made recent improvements and expansions, showing their commitment to our area.

Another new award, the Economic Development Achievement Award, went to The Meadows. Economic development, in all its aspects, is essential to keeping Freeport and Stephenson County growing and thriving. No one can deny that the redevelopment of The Meadows shopping mall continues to bring interest and excitement to an area of Freeport that greatly needs it. New retail businesses expanded and renovated tenants, and services including a dog park are all reasons why The Meadows is a worthy recipient.

The final new award this year was the Volunteer of the Year Award. Like the Ambassador of the Year and the LeBaron Lifetime Achievement Award, this award celebrates the importance of volunteering and giving back to our community. Without individuals and teams ready to step up and help on the many projects and events that make this area so special, we would not be able to enjoy all that this area has to offer. This year’s recipient, Todd McKenna, couldn’t be a better representative of that idea. Todd is a tireless volunteer for several organizations, always quietly doing what needs to be done.

Thank you to everyone who nominated people and businesses for all our awards! Congratulations to all who were nominated and to those who won. You will see more information celebrating each of the award winners in social media in the coming weeks.  We could not have had better representatives of important issues to the Greater Freeport Partnership and to what makes Freeport and Stephenson County a great place to live, work, and play!

BIll Clow is the Business Engagement Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. He can be reached at or 815-233-1353.