FinnFest Leads Spark Plug Awards

HOUGHTON – For a week in June, Finns, Finnish-Americans and even just people who wanted to celebrate Finnish culture flocked to the FinnFest events in the Copper Country.

The success of that production was rewarded as the 2013 FinnFest team was named Person of the Year at Thursday night’s annual Spark Plug Awards. The awards, which recognize leaders in the Keweenaw, are a joint effort of the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, MTEC SmartZone and, added as a partner this year, Keweenaw Young Professionals.

“I was very honored,” said Susie Landers, managing director of FinnFest. “However, I feel that the award should be going to the board, all the committees, and the entire community because they really stepped up for this event. The support was amazing. This community has raised the bar for any future FinnFest. It was a very rewarding experience for me, and I’m looking forward to the next time.”

Other awards went to:

Jessie Brassard, Young Professional of the Year

MTEC SmartZone, Growth

Calumet Electronics, Quality

Glenn Simula, Innovation

Pettibone, Teamwork

Portage Health, Transformation

Jon Haeussler, Community Development

Event organizer Karyn Olsson called the event the most popular business networking function of the year.

“It’s businesses celebrating other great businesses in the community,” she said.

At the end of Thursday’s program, they recognized the turnover among the business community’s leadership. Four retiring notables received the “Exhaust Award”: former Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes, Copper Country Intermediate School District Superintendent Dennis Harbour, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Phil Musser and Bonnie Holland, executive director for Finlandia University’s Jutila Center for Global Design and Business. Les Cook, vice president for student affairs and advancement at Michigan Technological University, presented them each with the award, an oversized plaque with a rusty exhaust pipe.

“It ended the evening on a very humorous and fun note,” Olsson said.