OCIC Business and Industry Awards recognizes shining stars of Ottawa County

Mar 12, 2024 | Featured, Business | 1 comment

OCIC Executive Director Chris Singerling hosted the 2024 Business and Industry Awards on March 6.


The Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) brought together some of the county’s most impactful businesses, organizations and individuals as it hosted the 2024 Business and Industry Awards at The Que Barbecue & Brew on March 6. The event honored several people whose skills, community engagement and sacrificial efforts have improved the quality of life in Ottawa County.

The event began with remarks by OCIC Executive Director Chris Singerling, who gave an overview of the impact that OCIC has made on the county. OCIC has had a foundational economic influence on the region through its various workforce development programs. OCIC supports job creation, business expansion, education and other initiatives that help strengthen local businesses and retain employees in the county.

State Rep. D.J. Swearingen was the guest speaker at the 2024 Business and Industry Awards hosted by OCIC.

The event’s special speaker was State Rep. D.J. Swearingen, who talked about progress at the Ohio Statehouse that is helping improve the quality of life in what he called “the best district in the state.” Among Swearingen’s projects is an effort to bring more of the state’s operating budget money back to Ottawa County, his support of legislation to create a flat income tax, and his promotion of a conductivity study that would create better transportation access between Columbus and Ottawa County that could bolster local business.

The stars of the evening were the winners of the Business and Industry Awards. The recipients were chosen because of their innovative efforts that touch the lives of hundreds of people across the county and beyond. Each award winner was honored with proclamations from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague and State Senator Theresa Gavarone.

The winners were:

Brooke Hensley of The Gristmill was the recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Entrepreneur of the Year: Brooke Hensley, The Gristmill

Hensley transformed an old, abandoned gas station into a unique, thriving bar featuring specialty cocktails made with fresh-pressed juices, in-house mixes and infusions, and fresh herbs. The Gristmill’s distinctive business model helped it win several Beacon Best of the Best awards. Hensley’s tenacity pushed her through COVID challenges after opening The Gristmill in 2020, and today, the successful business maintains a devoted following of customers.

The Park Districk of Ottawa County was the recipient of the Economic Development Partner Award. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Economic Development Partner Award: Park District of Ottawa County

The park district was formed in 1992, but it didn’t begin to thrive until Executive Director Jannah Wilson was hired 30 years later in 2022. Under her leadership, and with the support of an engaged board, the park district has transformed the way locals play outdoors. Among the many new programs and improvements established under Wilson’s leadership include kayak launches, playground equipment, active transportation trails, bike safety initiatives and a Port Clinton park enhancement plan.

Jack and Lorraine Zimmerman of Hopfinger Zimmerman Memorial Park were the recipients of the Bill Mack Business Leader Award.

Bill Mack Business Leader Award: Jack and Lorraine Zimmerman, Hopfinger Zimmerman Memorial Park

Since opening Hopfinger Zimmerman Memorial Park on Lorraine’s family farm in 2017, the Zimmermans have not stopped improving the property. Their inexhaustible passion to transform the park into a recreational paradise for families has attracted a community full of helpers who continue to grow the park year by year. Today, the park’s amenities include a swimming pond, a fishing pond, a playground, walking trails, a pickleball court, a basketball court, a dog park and a manmade 40-foot sledding hill. Lorraine, who is always looking ahead to new ways to impact the community, said she is already planning the next expansion.

LogistiQ was the recipient of the Business of the Year Award. Accepting the award were Ron Guerra, Jerry Guerra and Emily Guerra-Martucci.

Business of the Year: LogistiQ, Ron Guerra, Jerry Guerra and Emily Guerra-Martucci

When LogistiQ, a third-generation and family-owned business, expanded into Port Clinton, it invested $12 million in equipment and created over 250 jobs. LogistiQ, a division of LEWCO, also brought to the county a heritage of manufacturing excellence and a commitment to creating a work environment that values employee health and well-being. Recognized as an unstoppable team of innovators, the LogistiQ leadership team impacts the economic and workforce health of the county.

Clay Finken was the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Volunteer of the Year: Clay Finken, Erie-Ottawa International Airport

Since being named director of the Erie-Ottawa International Airport in 2021, Clay Finken brought the small airport and Ottawa County to the world’s attention. Finken was recognized for improvements to the airport, including his efforts to bring Advanced Air Mobility to the county. Finken is president of the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council, which exists to strengthen the relationship between education and business to advance the future local workforce. His competency directing the airport inspired Singerling to say, “Our little airport that could is in very good hands.”

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Gresser

    Economic improvement comes with attracting businesses that will bring jobs that will give someone a living and in turn provide a stable neighborhood and local tax revenues. Parks don’t do that but do help community activities. Congratulations to Ms. Hensley, Logistics and Mr. Fineness on your well deserved awards.


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