Kane County’s first-ever Sparkler Awards were a big hit at Friday’s Leadership Summit, honoring 10 “Sparklers” that make Kane County a better place to live, work and play.
A little about the winners in each category is highlighted below, but the text just scratches the surface of the contributions of each organization, business or partnership group.
2015 Kane County Sparkler Award Winners
Winner: Jerry and Keith Rich, Rich Harvest Farms
Since opening in 1999, Rich Harvest Farms has been a premiere destination for golfers from all over the world. The private, members-only facility is home to the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois. Rich Harvest Links is also the home of the the Northern Illinois University Huskies Men’s & Women’s golf teams. The course has earned many distinct honors including consistently being named one of Rolex’s “World’s Top 1,000 Golf Courses” and Golf Digest’s ”America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.” Golf Digest also honored Rich Harvest Farms in 1999, by naming it the 5th Best New Private Course in the United States. Rich Harvest Farms is proud of its prestigious list of amateur and professional golf tournaments both past and future.
“There are a few things at Rich Harvest Farms that will never go away,” Jerry Rich, owner and president of Rich Harvest Farms said. “We will continue to host amateur golf events and bring golf into more children’s lives through our Foundation. That’s what’s most important.”
The golf course will be the site of several major events that will be the focus of national and international attention. In this year alone, Kane County will be the host of the 2015 Palmer cup, which features a lineup of the best college golfers in world, as well as the 2015 Western Amateur.
Perhaps the biggest international sports event ever to be held in Kane County is coming in 2016, when Rich Harvest Farms hosts the International Crown, a global match play event will be the first of its kind in women’s professional golf and will bring tremendous opportunity for the local community, corporations and youth.
Rich Harvest Farms is the host site of the following tournaments:
- 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s & Women’s National Championships (May 18-31, 2017)
- 2016 LPGA UL International Crown (July 19-24, 2016)
- 2015 Western Amateur (August 3-8, 2015)*
- 2015 Palmer Cup (June 12-14, 2015)*
- 2009 Solheim Cup®
Honorable Mentions in Business Category
Winner: Workforce Investment Board, Serving Kane, Kendall and DeKalb Counties
Job training and employment services in Kane, Kendall, and DeKalb Counties are overseen by the Workforce Investment Board. The board, which is appointed by the three County Board Chairmen, assists and advises local elected officials regarding the use of Federal workforce development funds. The business-led Workforce Investment Board represents regional employers, labor organizations, higher education, community-based organizations, economic development and workforce system partners. It establishes policies to ensure these services are relevant, flexible, demand driven and customer focused thus contributing to the vitality of the region’s economy.
- Established in 1998 following passage of the Workforce Investment Act.
- Total membership: 40 (28 from Kane, 6 from DeKalb, 6 from Kendall)
- Half the board is from the business community to help ensure services are responsive to the needs of local employers.
- Oversees annual allocation of approximately $5.7 million from U.S. Department of Labor, via the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
- Currently preparing for transition to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was passed by Congress in 2014.
Honorable Mentions in Partnership Category
- CASA Kane County
- Longmeadow Parkway Corridor
- Fox River Ecosystem Partnership
Winner: Kane County Community Health Assessment – Participating Partners
- The Kane County Health Department, local hospitals, the Inc. Board, and many other community groups
In 2014, for the second time, all five hospitals serving Kane County and the INC Board worked together with Kane County Health Department to complete a community assessment and begin work on a community health improvement plan. Led by the Health Department, the partners contributed more than $120,000 in direct financing in addition to the human resources needed to support the project. The hospitals, health department, and the mental health board all have overlapping requirements to complete health needs assessments and improvement plans. This unique funding partnership eliminated the need for each agency to pay for and collect similar data. In addition, the Health Department is switching to a three year assessment cycle, from a five year cycle, to align with hospital requirement and ensure the partnership will continue in the future.
The alignment of this work resulted in significant cost-savings to the organizations and tax payers. The data collected and analyzed by the Health Department is providing the foundation for the county’s health improvement plan and each agency’s plan. Aligning the assessment and plan development phases results in more closely aligned funding implementation by the participating agencies that address the top health issues facing Kane County residents.
Honorable Mentions Innovation Category
- Elgin Land Use/Transportation Task Force
- Kane County Planning Cooperative