The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce is taking nominations until September 15th in 25 categories ranging from best coffee shop to best employer.
In order to be nominated, the business or organization must be within the limits of Champaign County. Official voting for the Best of Champaign County will be September 16th-October 22nd, after all nominations have been submitted. Voters are asked to donate $1 per vote to the Chamber of Commerce, so that it can continue to carry out its mission to connect Champaign County by promoting members and inspiring collaboration by offering resources and opportunities to enhance our community. Nominations and ballots will be accepted online, by mail, email or in person at the Chamber of Commerce located at 127 W. Court St. in Urbana.
Chamber Director, Sara Neer, explains, “We started the Best of Champaign County contest and fundraiser as a response to our events being cancelled due to the pandemic. The response from the community and our members was very positive and many asked us if we would continue to do it annually, so here we are. This is a great way to educate the community on the many great businesses and organizations that not only provide services to our county, but also are the first to sponsor, volunteer and give back.”
The Best of Champaign County winners will be recognized at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on October 28th, on various social media platforms and on the Chamber’s website. Submit your nominations below!
The Village of West Liberty named the alley behind Marie’s Candies in their honor
Jill delivered a speech to the crowd talking about all that Jay and Kathy mean to her and to the community. She reminisced on years past and talked about how Marie’s Candies helped put our small village on the map. At the end of her speech, she had Jay and Kathy remove the cover on the street sign that now reads “King’s Way” honoring their family name and all they have done for the community. Everyone gathered for pictures, and Marie’s Candies provided refreshments for everyone in attendance.
In 1977 Jay and Kathy King became second generation owners of Marie’s Candies. They moved and restored the train depot that became the business’s retail space in 1996 and introduced many new candy options as well. Today, Marie’s Candies is in its third generation of owners, brother and sister, Shannon King and Rebecca Craig became co-owners in 2016.
Retail Confectioners International’s Annual Convention and Industry Expo Visits West Liberty
Marie’s Candies has been a part of RCI since 1978. This is their third time hosting this event, having last hosted in 2013 and previously in 1999. The purpose of RCI is to connect chocolate and candy makers to help grow their businesses and Marie’s Candies contributes a lot of their success to being a part of the organization.
The tour was an inside look of how Marie’s Candies operates and gave information on everything from their candy making process to packaging and display creation. Everyone in attendance got the chance to sample four of Marie’s Candies items including: Lime Bon-Bons, Irish Potatoes, Chocolate Covered Grapes and Peanut Butter Meltaways.
Emmie King (no relation), a second-generation owner of Nandy’s Candy in Jackson, MS, was one of the confectioners in attendance. She said that one of the highlights of her day happened just before leaving “I was about to go, but stopped to talk with Mr. King, probably my biggest highlight. He carefully answered my questions about his temperature-controlled rooms and invited me to go check theirs out after exposing what makes them work so well. We are currently working on a smaller version at our shop.”
The way candy makers share their secrets with each other on these tours is what makes them so special. There is a sense of community, not competition, and everyone walks away from a convention week having learned something new with a renewed passion for what they do.
Kids Life is part of the River of Life Christian Center’s children’s ministry. According to Children’s Pastor, Destiny Leiker, “We provide a fun and exciting atmosphere to help children grow healthy friendships and learn about God’s love. We’re always looking for fresh ideas to reach the kids of our community and give them fun character-building activities. Partnering with the Gloria Theatre allows us to offer this exciting opportunity to the community to come out and enjoy a great movie in a great place with free admission.”
A new bicycle will be raffled off along with several “Movie Fun Packs” that include free tickets, concession vouchers and candy.
The Gloria Theatre is a project of the GrandWorks Foundation whose mission is to reach, restore and revive the community. Staci Weller, GrandWorks CEO, commented that “this partnership with Kids Life is exactly the type of thing our community needs. We hope to see hundreds of children and their parents take advantage of this opportunity. By the way, since it’s a morning movie, we decided it would be cool to offer milk and donuts along with all of our regular concessions.”