Registration for the 2012 event is now open!
Click here to register for Cleveland's biggest corporate networking party!
Best Promotional/Corporate Gift Company
Gino’s Awards manufactures and retails awards, corporate gifts, and personalized and recognition products. Founded in 1950, the company has grown and expanded into a national presence in the awards and recognition industry. Originally, the business crafted engraving jobs for jewelers. Eventually, the business became a full-service jewelry store and then entered the awards and recognition industry. Today Gino’s serves customers in all 50 states, Canada, South America, and Europe. Its products include custom-manufactured items and unique brand names. Customers are welcome to visit the Gino’s Awards factory and showroom in Warrensville Heights to view products and work with a Gino’s representative to find or create an award, gift or recognition product suitable for any company or organization. For more info: ginosonline.com
Sawmill Creek Resort and Conference Center
Sawmill Creek Resort and Conference Center bills itself as the “most focused meeting facility” in the state. Indeed, the majority of the Huron-based resort’s room sales are in group business. The new Wilderness Hall adds 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including a 16,000-square-foot ballroom/exhibition hall that accommodates up to 1,750 attendees or 100 exhibits. The Lodge at Sawmill Creek Resort provides indoor and outdoor team development programs that are designed based upon an organization’s needs. Survivor Challenge Programs can be broken into half-, three-quarter-, and full-day events. The full-day program consists of four main events: the Energizer Session, GPS Adventure, Dune Buggy Challenge, and America’s Cup Challenge.
For more info: sawmillcreek.com
Best Traditional Venue
Wyndham Cleveland at PlayhouseSquare
The Wyndham Cleveland is situated in the heart of the second-largest theater complex in the United States (second to New York’s City’s Lincoln Center) — just steps away from eight theater venues that host various Broadway musicals, special concerts, speaking engagements, and resident performing art companies. The hotel boasts 13,200 square feet of newly renovated meeting/catering space, including its Grand Ballroom, which consists of 5,100 square feet. The Wyndham Cleveland has 205 newly renovated guest rooms and an onsite restaurant, Encore, which hosts breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Blue Bar is the perfect space to meet for cocktails before or after the shows.
For more info: wyndham.com/hotels/CLEPS
Best Non-Traditional Venue
House of Blues Cleveland
House of Blues Cleveland features dedicated special event spaces with fireside ambiance, hand-painted murals, and extravagant entrances on Euclid Avenue and East Fourth Street. Each space within the House of Blues has been hand-painted and detailed to provide a unique and stylish setting. The Unity Room offers Southern hospitality and comfort. For a more upscale cocktail reception or group dinner, the Cambridge Room gets the call. The Music Hall serves as a great space for larger groups and unique weddings. The bi-level room has a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system that can be customized for an event. Finally, the members-only Foundation Room features intimate upscale dining, an exotic lounge and secluded “prayer room.” For more info: houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/Cleveland
Best Nonprofit Fundraiser
Rainbow Jumper Challenge
The Rainbow Jumper Classic, which occurred Aug. 28 at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club in Gates Mills, raised $100,000 in its inaugural year despite less than six months of planning. A lengthy list of sponsors helped to subsidize expenses, allowing a net of more than $65,000 to go back to host University Hospitals. The event, which included a full-course dinner, auctions, and live musical entertainment, attracted a crowd of 275. The biggest challenge to organizers was time. With under six months to plan, the host committee had an aggressive timeline for every element of planning, including invitations, logistics, food, entertainment, sponsorship, and auction items. Nonetheless, the team excelled at every level.
For more info: rainbowcircleoffriends.org
Best Speaker/Meeting Facilitator
Katherine Miracle is the founder and owner of Miracle Resources, an Akron-based consulting, training, and educational resource for businesses and nonprofits. Miracle Resources specializes in the areas of marketing, public relations, advertising, and revenue development. The company creates seminars that help audience members increase awareness and revenue. Miracle speaks across the United States for corporations and universities, and her client list includes Cleveland Clinic, Westfield Group, US Bank, Delta, and 50 businesses and 20 nonprofits. She and her consultants at Miracle Resources have raised more than 28 million for 10 nonprofits, secured $4 million in free publicity for corporations and non profits, and created advertising/marketing campaigns that have increased revenue for more than 50 businesses. For more info: katherinemiracle.com
Best Technical Support Company
Rock the House Entertainment Group
Rock the House gains high praise from its customers, company officials say, based on the fact that the firm is one of the few locally that can create, implement, and execute “innovative and edgy” concepts. Meanwhile, other technical support companies and partners are generally regarded as a bit impersonal and robotic. RTH’s customer satisfaction rate exceeds 93 percent, thanks in part to money-back guarantees, high standards, and a commitment to “concierge-class” customer service. More than 50 employees comprise RTH, led by a group of managers that understands that leading by example is the only way to grow. “We do what we love and loves what we do,” the saying goes at Rock the House.
For more info: rthgroup.com
Best Event Rental Company
Event Source stocks the highest quality products available, such as Riedel crystal and Cort furniture, and offers a wide range of choices in excellent taste and style. The company’s 3,200-square-foot showroom includes many table and furniture presentations to assist customers with event design. No event is too small or too large for Event Source, as it has enough chairs to seat 20,000 guests. A fleet of cellular-dispatched, clean, and reliable trucks provides convenient delivery and pickup. Uniformed delivery service representatives are drug tested, friendly, honest, and polite. All orders are triple-checked to ensure accuracy, crated, placed on pallets, wrapped, and labeled for quick onsite identification.
For more info: eventsource.net
Best Tradeshow Company
Ohio Displays Inc.
Ohio Displays Inc. is the nation’s oldest continuously operating trade show exhibit designer and fabricator. For more than 90 years, ODI has been a prominent fixture of an industry that it has been fortunate to help create. Started as the Ohio Sign Co. by Frank Addis in 1919, ODI has stayed true to its roots as a family owned, operated, and focused business. The last few years have offered a number of new and unique challenges brought on by everything from spiking fuel prices to terrorism and, of course, to the shaky economy. The firm’s seasoned staff has called upon its unmatched industry experience to create solutions that have allowed its clients to not only continue making the most of their trade shows but also to add shows at a time when others have been forced to make cuts.
For more info: ohiodisplays.com
Best Networking Organization
Sales and Marketing Executives of Cleveland
Sales and Marketing Executives of Cleveland offers monthly networking luncheons that keep attendees current on sales and marketing strategies in Northeast Ohio. The group presents SME-U educational workshops that are hands-on audience interactions with presenters. Grand Slam Networking is an annual event at Progressive Field that provides power networking as well as informal networking to attendees. Business After Hours is an informal, casual networking opportunity that is free of charge and held at different locations once a month. The group’s best-kept secret is its Business Connections — weekly lead exchange groups of more than 20 members that have helped many members open doors to companies because of referrals. For more info: smecleveland.com
Best Women’s Networking Organization
Ladies Who Launch
Ladies Who Launch, with more than 80 members in Cleveland and more than 10,000 nationally, addresses the unique needs of female entrepreneurs, from the emerging to the established, by recognizing that women launch and run their businesses differently from men. Women are motivated to launch their businesses to gain freedom and flexibility in their life, and to release their creativity and follow their passion. Women, by nature, are also much more social than men and relationship-building is part of their critical core, so even how one networks is different than how a man networks. Understanding this, Ladies Who Launch builds its events, attracts speakers, and offers online services that cater to this whole notion of the female approach to launching.
For more info: ladieswholaunch.com/cleveland
Best Networking Event
Event Expo 2010
Event Expo 2010 was a “runaway success,” according to its organizers, and delivered entertainment, education, and excitement to the region’s top-tier event professionals. With more than 700 attendees and 75 vendors, each guest was treated to an unparalleled networking experience. Speakers included Michael Cerbelli, the president of special events for New York-based Total Entertainment, and David Merrell, the president of AOO events in Los Angeles. Both of the award-winning presenters provided examples of their best practices to a packed house. Event Expo is the creation of two longstanding Cleveland companies, Team Promotions and Event Source. This year’s event will again be held at the House of Blues Cleveland on April 28.
For more info: eventplannersexpo.com/Cleve
Best Golf Outing
Suicide Prevention Education Alliance
The Suicide Prevention Education Alliance’s Links for Life golf outing offers the opportunity for successful business people to network with their peers while having fun. Golfers and sponsors know that they are helping to save young lives, as suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teens. The 15th annual outing was held June 22, again at Little Mountain Country Club in Concord. A total of $111,915 was raised to exceed one of the organization’s primary two goals. Raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention also was accomplished via pre-event communications, factoid signage at every hole, in-program facts, and a stunning “Mission Moment,” which was delivered prior to the awards ceremony by a survivor of suicide loss. For more info: helppreventsuicide.org
Best On-Site Caterer
Sammy’s was already highly regarded for its distinctive venues across Greater Cleveland, and they opened a new location — Sammy’s Grand Ballroom — in Garfield Heights in 2010. Sconces grace the Grand Ballroom’s walls, and six large crystal chandeliers hang suspended from its 20-foot-high ceiling. With a dedicated dance floor, balcony area, 30-foot-long bar (with a mirror running its entire length), and accommodations for a custom-built dais, this new location is ideal for events up to 500 guests. The facility also contains a smaller hall suitable for business and club meetings and smaller dinners, a large amount of complimentary parking, and a secluded outdoor setting with ample space for tented events.
For more info: sammys.com
Best Off-Site Caterer
Executive Caterers is one of the largest privately held catering companies in Ohio and has been serving the Cleveland corporate, social, and civic community since 1960. Headquartered at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights, the company has handled events throughout the state, as well as in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Kentucky, and Florida. Executive Caterers currently employs more than 90 full-time employees and a minimum of 150 part-time employees. That number balloons to more than 300, depending upon events requiring additional part-time help. Founder Harlan Diamond has instilled in his company the philosophy of social responsibility by giving back to the community through philanthropy.
For more info: executivecaterers.com
Best Floral Design Company
Blooms by Plantscaping
Blooms by Plantscaping for the last 31 years has specialized in providing live, unique, custom floral arrangements and décor for galas and philanthropic events, corporate settings, weddings, special occasions, bar/bat mitzvahs, holidays, and sympathy tributes. Vice president Arne Klein has more than 27 years of artful experience, and his design team can devise concepts based on individual needs, taste, and style. The family-owned, female business enterprise currently is the 15th-largest interior landscaping company in the nation. Its 45-member team is comprised of certified horticulturists, artful designers, product developers, fabricators, and installation engineers who are all passionate about transforming interior spaces and improving people’s daily lives.
For more info: bloomsbyplantscaping.com
Best Corporate Event Planner
Deb Smythe Hermann
Deb Smythe Hermann, the CEO of GhostLight Productions, knows she’s done a great job when she gets a hug from a grateful client at 1 a.m. She got many of those in 2010 despite a weak economy that necessitated her skills at budget management, return on investment achievement, and message delivery. With an eye on the bottom line, she developed imaginative concepts for event branding and messaging while encouraging the use of social media and volunteers. Hermann co-chaired “The Benefit,” the Nov. 20 opening night celebration of Billy Elliot the Musical to benefit PlayhouseSquare’s Community Engagement and Education programs. Despite several challenges, she remained committed to the success of the event, which raised more than $200,000 while attracting more than 600 guests. For more info: ghostlightllc.com
Best Corporate Event Of The Year
COSE Small Business Conference
The Council of Smaller Enterprises on Oct. 20-21 celebrated the fifth year of its two-day Small Business Conference. Every element of the conference was developed with networking and sharing opportunities in mind. The schedule of included multiple exhibit hall opportunities that allowed attendees to sit down and chat with one another and also give them time to walk the aisles, talk to exhibitors, and identify those solutions that best fit their small business. The first day ended with a networking reception in the exhibit hall to allow attendees to connect with those who also have benefited from their experience during the day. The I-X Center accommodated COSE in the form of at least 16 workshop rooms, a ballroom for keynote sessions, and an exhibit hall large enough for 80 exhibitors. For more info: cose.org
Alicia M. Hansen
Alicia Hansen grew up in Greater Cleveland and is proud to still call it home. By working in the kitchen of her mother’s catering business, the seed for her interest in special events planning was planted. After graduating from Baldwin-Wallace College in 2005, she jumped into Cleveland’s nonprofit fundraising scene at the Great Lakes Science Center and then the Great Lakes Theater Festival. Currently the director of special events at the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, Hansen coordinates food and wine fundraising events for the organization. Hansen lives in Parma with her husband, Hans, and golden retriever, Grady. She began her blog, Poise in Parma (poiseinparma.com), in October 2009 after losing more than 110 pounds over seven years.
For more info: poiseinparma.com