John Koskinen (copy)

Wisconsin State Chief Economist John Koskinen points to statistics during a speech at the Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce's Economic Update Lunch, held at John Deere Horicon Works in November. Koskinen will be keynote speaker for the Portage Chamber Annual Awards Breakfast, to be held Jan. 31 at Dino's Restaurant.

It’s time to be recognized.

Nomination forms for the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce annual awards must be submitted by Friday, Jan. 19. The forms are available at the Chamber office, 104 W. Cook St.

Don’t put it off, Marianne Hanson cautioned. Getting acknowledged in business means something — maybe in ways you haven’t considered.

“Sometimes we don’t take the opportunity to look at all the great things going on in the community,” the Chamber’s executive director since 2005 said. Business awards highlight things like renovations, expansions and new jobs.

But the ceremony set for 7:30 a.m. Jan. 31 at Dino’s Restaurant is really about leadership, commitment and creating “a sense of community,” she said.

To Hanson, it’s a chance to “say wow.”

The Chamber will recognize nominees in five categories: Business Excellence Award (20 or more employees); Susan Weyh Business Excellence Award (less than 20 employees); Rising Business Star Award, for entrepreneurs who have been in business less than three years; Community Service Award; and the First Impression Award, for a business that has improved the aesthetic appearance of its property.

Self-nominations are allowed and encouraged, Hanson said.

Tickets to the awards ceremony cost $25 and include breakfast. Pre-registration is required.

The Chamber’s guest speaker for the event will be John Koskinen, chief economist of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. He’s served in the administrations of both Gov. Scott Walker and Gov. Jim Doyle.

Koskinen will take a long look at the Wisconsin economy and why he thinks the state is in the best shape its been in 18 years, Hanson said. He’ll explain why the state, over the past few years, is adding more new businesses and seeing people move to the state for work, among other topics.

Koskinen will compare Wisconsin’s business growth to other states, and he’ll compare how Columbia County stacks up to its neighbors in things like taxes and unemployment, Hanson added.

Here’s a look at last year’s Chamber awards:

Business Excellence Award: Rayovac

Susan Weyh Business Excellence Award: New Life Physical Therapy

Rising Business Star Award: Jack’s Tap

Community Service Award: Anastasia Kinney

Educator Commitment Award: St. John’s Child Development Center

First Impression: Culver’s

Tourism Award: Cascade Mountain

D.C. Fly-in

Portage area businesses should decide soon if they wish to participate in the Wisconsin Chambers of Commerce Washington D.C. Fly-In, set for mid-February, Hanson said.

Participants will attend White House briefings and meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Such group meetings could involve leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson and Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

The complete schedule is still to be determined, said Hanson, who serves on the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executive’s board of directors.

To learn more about the Fly-in, contact the local Chamber at 608-742-6242.

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau

Portage Daily Register reporter