The Chamber is pleased to announce the three winners of the seventh annual Business Awards, which highlights excellence in the Northbrook business community. The Corporate Citizen of the Year is recognized for promoting a spirit of giving and community involvement; the Small Business of the Year is honored for excellent business practices and the Volunteer of the Year is selected for consistently helping the Chamber achieve its goals.  The businesses will be formally honored at the Annual Meeting and Dinner on Wednesday, February 27th at the Renaissance Hotel. The two business award winners will receive plaques along with a $500 donation to be given to the charity of their choice. The Volunteer award winner receives a $200 honorarium.

Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel, Corporate Citizen of the Year

While Northbrook’s largest hotel serves an international clientele, it regularly demonstrates compassion for the surrounding community. Whether it’s something as simple as donating space to a local chess club, or hosting a day-long event to pack thousands of meals for area needy families, the Renaissance Hotel has a consistent track record of giving back to the community, which is central to the award’s criteria.

Hundreds of area organizations and businesses approach the Renaissance every year seeking donations for their charitable causes and fund-raising events. Over the past three years, General Manager Rik Blyth reports the Renaissance has steadily increased its support for area organizations. Since 2010, the Renaissance has made over 600 donations in the form of overnight stays and hotel packages valued at over $21,000. Donations have been given to support organizations large and small — from restaurants sponsoring charity bowling events to local school silent auctions to larger corporate fundraisers. “We are happy to support these causes and try to help whenever we can,” he adds. The Renaissance also opens its doors to help in other ways. For the past few years, the hotel has donated space for Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation.

The Renaissance has consistently been one of the biggest supporters of the Chamber, donating its largest ballroom for several important Chamber events. In August 2012, the Renaissance devoted its largest banquet room for the Chamber to host a massive Meal Packing event. The hotel went a step further, setting up an area for volunteers to watch a training tape, providing refreshments for the workers, and putting together a team of workers to help package the meals.

The Renaissance is the single largest contributor to the Chamber’s Auction and Taste, the largest annual fundraiser, donating space for the event that showcases 20 area restaurants and attracts over 400 attendees. In addition, its donation of a private dinner prepared by their chef is one of the signature items in the Live Auction. Renaissance staff members also serve on the volunteer committee and help at the event.

“The Renaissance always goes above and beyond the call of duty to support Chamber events and the community,” comments board member Steven Lewis who also served on the Nominating Committee to select the award winners. “People probably don’t realize it, but without the help of the Renaissance, executing something as massive as the Meal Packing event or the Chamber’s Auction and Taste would be extremely difficult. Having the event at the Renaissance made it possible for 260 volunteers to package over 42,000 meals for area food pantries. This kind of generosity is meaningful and helps to make our events fun for everyone.”

The Renaissance supports the Chamber in numerous other ways, including sponsoring the Raffle for the Golf Outing, bringing numerous golfers to the event, and providing staff help to plan the event.

Blyth notes that he is personally committed to setting an example for his staff and tries to take advantage of opportunities to reach out in other, more personal ways. He recently worked with Chamber Member Emily Raming, TotalLink 2 Community to employ one of her clients who is autistic. And inspired by the Chamber’s Meal Packing event, he recently helped organize a team of employees to create 30 tabletop holiday trees, decorated with holiday candy to donate to the Northfield Food Pantry. “I enjoy living and working in Northbrook and care about the community. We all have a responsibility to reach out to those who are less fortunate than ourselves,” Blyth notes.

The Renaissance staff also carries out a mission to help others. The staff supports the corporate office national charity “Give Kids the World” a 70 acre non-profit “storybook” resort in Central Florida where kids and families with life threatening illnesses are treated to free, fantasy vacations. Recently the Renaissance staff rallied behind one of its housekeepers whose child needed a kidney transplant. The staff raised almost $1500 which was matched by the corporate office to help the family out.

The Renaissance is part of the Davidson Hotels and Resorts, the nation’s sixth largest independent hotel management company. The Renaissance has recently undergone a major renovation to update all 385 rooms, lobby and restaurant/bar area. Additional improvements were made to the 22,000 square feet of meeting space. In 2013, according to Blyth, there will be additional improvements, to bring a more contemporary look to the hotel, including brand new exterior signage.