Some might say that diversity was by no means lacking among the list of past winners of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year Award. Everyone from hardware store owners to candy peddlers, bank presidents and park district directors are represented among past recipients.
Still, Laurie Kokenes, the chamber’s director, noted that something important was missing: women. That changed at the Chamber’s annual banquet Saturday night, when Tonya Hart and Cecelia Hardacker, co-owners of Two Fish Art Glass, 7401 Madison St., were given the award for 2005.
“Cec and Tonya have been here only 2.5 years, but the impact they’ve made on Madison Street, and in turn the entire community, is huge,” said Kokenes of owners of a business previously located in Oak Park.
Kokenes also noted the role of Hart and Hardacker in the formation of the M2 Madison Merchants Association, a group of Madison Street business owners that works together to promote the street. The group, according to Kokenes, has grown from 12 to 35 members since it first met in 2004.
“The environment on Madison Street was just perfect (when we arrived)…It was ripe for the picking,” said Hardacker in her acceptance speech. She noted the tenacity of Two Fish’s owners in pursuing their goals for the business as key to their success.
Two Fish, Kokenes said, has also brought much publicity to Forest Park through its various appearances in major television shows and newspapers, and has enhanced the village’s commitment to charity through one of the owners involvement in the Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest United Way.
“Two Fish is always involved. The girls are not too shy to voice their opinion, but that opinion does not come without a solution and a willingness to step in and help,” said Kokenes.