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DeKalb chamber hosts annual dinner

DeKALB – When Bill and Joy McMahon first bought the Lincoln Inn restaurant as two young Northern Illinois University graduates in 1994, they had no idea they would eventually turn it into the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Business of the Year.

After 2013 DeKalb Chamber Board Chair Mark Smirz announced The Lincoln Inn as the Business of the Year at Thursday’s annual chamber meeting and celebration dinner at NIU, McMahon was shocked.

“This is quite an honor,” he said. “We are truly humbled.”

The dinner honored several of DeKalb’s top leaders and entrepreneurs, including NIU President Dr. John Peters who will retire from the university at the end of this academic year. Peters received the Community Pride Award for his 13 years of service to the university and the community.

Peters said one of the greatest rewards of his job has been learning about the positive influence he’s had on the lives of students and community members, although he never realized he had made such an impact.

He said the DeKalb community has been just as significant in his life.

“It’s so important to remember our past and the people who got us here,” he said.

Peters said he is proud of the way NIU and the DeKalb community have successfully worked side by side over the years.

“It’s amazing everything the university and community has been through, and the progress we’ve made despite hard times,” he said.

He said their working relationship must continue.

“A strong and vibrant DeKalb and Sycamore is essential to the success of NIU,” he said.

2012 DeKalb Chamber Board Chair Wendy West-Krauch said she expects 2013 to be another successful year for the community and the chamber. She said one of the chamber’s biggest accomplishments this past year was the increase in membership. The chamber currently sits at more than 520 members, a number she and Smirz expect to increase in 2013.

West-Krauch and Smirz both stressed that working together is how the businesses of DeKalb will succeed in the future.

“Those who work together, grow together,” they said.

This philosophy is one that McMahon has put into practice at the Lincoln Inn.

Many of McMahon’s staff have worked with him for several years, which he said is a blessing. They all enjoy working together, which is part of the reason he feels the business is such a success.

McMahon said the city of DeKalb has also played a huge role in the success of his business.

“It’s a great thing that could only happen in this community, because you meet people who believe in you and will give you a chance,” he said.

Although he has struggled at times over the years, McMahon said he wouldn’t trade his life for anything.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I’m the luckiest guy in town.”

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