BY JOE HOSHAW Jr.
Trenton native John Burtka was honored last month as the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year, thanks largely to his efforts to take a lead role in the revitalization and growth of Jackson’s downtown area.
Burtka, a 1975 Trenton High School graduate, is credited with being the catalyst for three major projects having an impact on the city’s downtown. The past year has been especially busy, launching a project that will result in the revival and renovation of an abandoned historic building into a 44,000-square-foot apartment building with a first-floor grocery store. He also recently led an investment team in the purchase of another building that is expected to house a restaurant and apartments.
The projects come on the heels of the rapid growth and popularity of the Grand Rapids Brewery, which he opened in 2013. Burtka and his wife, Denise, also own and operate the Cherry Creek Winery, another business in the Jackson vicinity. The products of both businesses have been the recipients of statewide acclaim.
According to the Chamber, the Small Business Person of the Year Award highlights the role of small businesses in our community and symbolizes the personal strengths of owners of small businesses, representing the successful business person’s ability to see each business factor from every perspective while preserving the view of the whole.
“We feel the award is an important distinction and we are very pleased that someone as community-focused, dedicated and driven as Mr. Burtka will be this year’s recipient,” said Dan Machnik, whose company, Willis & Machnik Financial Services, sponsored the honor. “We hope the entire business community will join us in celebrating John’s accomplishments.”
Award criteria include staying power, stability and growth in number of employees, increase in sales, evidence of financial viability, innovativeness, response to adversity, evidence of contributions to aid the community, location, ownership and size. The criteria is parallel to those of the state and national small business awards, making the Jackson recipient eligible for entry into those levels of competition.
“In business school, they teach you that cash flow is king, but you can never get there unless you surround yourself with great people,” Burtka told JTV in Jackson.
Burtka received his award at the Chamber’s annual meeting late last month.