(INDIANAPOLIS) — Banking executive Mike Kubacki, Fifth District Congresswoman Susan Brooks and the city of Bloomington were all honored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce this evening at the organization’s 25th Annual Awards Dinner. 

A crowd of approximately 1,500 attended the event at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Saturday Night Live alum and radio host Dennis Miller was the featured speaker.

The awards dinner was presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

“All of our honorees have demonstrated supreme commitment to making Indiana a better place. Their efforts will be felt well beyond today and pay dividends for years to come,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

Business Leader of the Year: Mike Kubacki, Lake City Bank executive chairman, Warsaw
Lake City Bank Executive Chairman Mike Kubacki grew up in the business, with his father serving as president of Pierceton State Bank in Whitley County.

After a 25-year career in Chicago and Los Angeles with Northern Trust, Kubacki returned home when the call came from Lake City.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I bank at your bank and your people in this office are great,’” Kubacki shares. “It’s really an outstanding job, and it’s a 24/7 job – but that doesn’t bother me. It’s a magnificent experience.

“As a leader of a community bank, there simply isn’t a distinction between what I do at work and at home. Back in the day, we’d say there are two kinds of people in the world for a community banker – customers and prospects. So you need to be on your best behavior all the time. If you don’t enjoy that, you shouldn’t be a banker,” he states.

During his 16 years as CEO (through earlier this year), Lake City increased its assets from $800 million to $3.2 billion. Kubacki led a team that expanded efforts beyond its home of Warsaw by establishing regional centers in South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. He also introduced a formalized training program called Lake City University.

That growth has earned widespread admiration. Dan Evans, CEO of Indiana University Health, was elected to the Lake City Bank board in 2010. He cites Kubacki’s leadership as a driver in his desire to serve. “Mike’s intensely focused on what is best for his customers and the communities that Lake City serves,” he notes.

In Kubacki’s current role as executive chairman and throughout his career, he has never been one to sit behind his desk. He says his office now is anywhere where he has his briefcase and cell phone. His direct relationships with clients, and community involvement are widespread.

David Findlay, current Lake City Bank CEO, says Kubacki’s role as chairman is equally as important as his prior one. “He’s a tremendous voice for the bank and the communities we serve. He’s one of the most effective calling officers I’ve ever seen in terms of his development of relationships with clients, centers of influence and prospects.”

Government Leader of the Year: Congresswoman Susan Brooks
Being a freshman is never easy. Fortunately for her constituents, Congresswoman Susan Brooks was a standout from the very beginning.

Her experiences as a lawyer, deputy mayor of Indianapolis, U.S. Attorney and at Ivy Tech Community College have helped her get off to a fast start. Prestigious committee assignments, reaching out across the aisle and actually moving legislation in a Congress plagued by partisanship are among the accomplishments.

Brooks asked for and received placement on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, plus the Committee on Homeland Security. She was also assigned to the Ethics Committee, which investigates the conduct of House members. In addition, earlier this year she was the only freshman asked to serve on the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi.

Tom Snyder, Ivy Tech president, did not know Brooks prior to bringing her on board. In addition to strengthening the in-house legal capabilities at the community college, she helped developed what eventually became the school’s Corporate College (with an emphasis on training capabilities).

“Susan is an incredibly good listener in terms of business needs,” he explains. “She was a business advocate when she was here and she’s taken that position as she’s moved on to Congress.

“She’s had two bills passed in a Congress that has a reputation for not getting bills passed. I think Susan is an example that if you get the right people in Congress, they get past institutional barriers and get things done.”

Of the approximately 70 House members voted into office two years ago, Brooks states, “People want us to try and be different because they are so fed up and angry about the gridlock.”

Sarah Evans Barker, longtime judge of the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana where Brooks was a U.S. attorney, believes Brooks has what it takes to make a difference: “Susan brings the same outlook, same approach, and same dedication and good humor to every responsibility she is given – and people trust her for that. She is who she is. It’s a wonderful fact about her and wonderful description of her.”

Community of the Year: Bloomington
If you look at just the last decade alone, the city of Bloomington has been on the cutting edge in several industries.

The life sciences sector – led by world-renowned device manufacturer Cook Medical Group – continues to thrive. An emergence in the high-tech arena is also paying dividends.

The work of the Bloomington Technology Partnership (BTP) has helped pave the way with a variety of endeavors. Another key factor driving technology has been the education and knowledge housed at both Ivy Tech and Indiana University.

“Just over the last 10 years, we’ve seen something like 500 patents come out of the work of all our faculty members – and many of those patents have led to either technologies that have been licensed or the development of start-up companies,” says Indiana University President Michael McRobbie.

“So over about the same period, we’ve seen nearly 40 new companies get established that have grown out of IU-developed technologies and innovations.”

The city believes its crown jewel will be a 65-acre certified technology park that includes a 12-acre core property currently under development in downtown. Weekly networking events, numerous technology gatherings and an annual three-day conference further emphasize the importance placed on the tech economy.

But life is about far more than work, and Bloomington’s prosperity and popularity is strongly rooted in its culture and attractions. It’s something the city consciously uses to its advantage.

Mayor Mark Kruzan: “Our economic development strategy is based on the notion that quality of life is synonymous with economic vitality. We’re trying to make Bloomington the kind of place people want to visit, live, work, invest in. That’s what’s fueling the economy.”

Community leaders and residents come together to tackle challenges and create new opportunities. Above all, they are passionate about their hometown.

“There are some of the geekiest, smartest people working on tech startups here. And every single one of them is creating a product that blows me away every time,” notes Katie Birge, director of the BTP.

Concludes McRobbie: “I’ve never regretted for a nanosecond moving here. I love living in Bloomington … it really is a wonderful environment in which to live.”
Ivy Tech Community College served as the speaker sponsor for the event, while the opening reception sponsor was Uzelac & Associates. The speaker reception sponsor was Hirons & Company: Advertising + Public Relations.

The awards dinner followed the Indiana Chamber’s fall board of directors and annual membership meetings. Indiana Chamber Volunteers of the Year Phil Bounsall (Walker, Indianapolis); Jill Ritchie (Indiana Beverage, Valparaiso); and Heather Wilson (Frost Brown Todd, Indianapolis) were announced during a lunch ceremony.

Tom Easterday, executive vice president of Subaru of Indiana Automotive, of Lafayette, was elected the Indiana Chamber’s 2015 chair of the board of directors.

Videos honoring the award winners that were shown at tonight’s event can be viewed at www.indianachamber.com/go2/winners. Read more about the winners at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

RECENT INDIANA CHAMBER ANNUAL AWARD WINNERS:
Business Leader of the Year
Steve Ferguson – 2013
Scott Dorsey – 2012
Jean Wojtowicz – 2011
Mike Wells – 2010
John Swisher – 2009

Community of the Year
Bedford – 2013
Indianapolis – 2012
Kokomo – 2011
Terre Haute – 2010
Valparaiso – 2009

Government Leader of the Year
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar – 2013
Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Jerry Torr – 2012
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – 2011
Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction – 2010
Stan Jones, former state commissioner for higher education – 2009

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The Indiana Chamber partners with 15,000 members and investors – representing 2.6 million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”

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