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Award honoring Jim Tyree will recognize small company leader

FILE - In this file photo taken Jan. 22, 2008, banker James Tyree is seen in his Chicago office. A Delaware bankruptcy judge on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009, approved the sale of the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers owned by its parent company to a group led by Chicago businessman Jim Tyree. (AP Photo/Chicago Sun-Times, John H. White) **CHICAGO LOCALS OUT, MAGS OUT**

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Mesirow Financial is launching the new James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award competition Monday, an award to be presented annually to the small company chief executive who best represents the spirit and values of the late business and civic leader and former Mesirow and chamber chairman.

The award will include a $25,000 cash award, donated by Mesirow, and $25,000 in in-kind services donated by chamber members, said Gerald Roper, chamber president and chief executive officer.

“The award was established because Jim Tyree is known for being such a great business leader and civic booster, but he really had a love for small businesses as well,” said John Roberson, executive director of the Small Business Development Resource Center at the chamber, which is coordinating the award program. “He understood and realized that the success of our region really depended upon having successful small businesses and in helping to develop and cultivate and grow those businesses.”

The award will recognize integrity, philanthropy, humor, humility, generosity and community advocacy. Companies will be evaluated based on financial performance, civic and charitable involvement, company leadership and innovation, growth and scalability, said chamber representatives.

“Jim Tyree as the chairman of the chamber for three years, loved the chamber,” Roper said. “He loved the mission of the chamber, and we wanted to make sure that we’re recognizing him in a way that there was a legacy to the recognition.”

Tyree, who died last year, served as chairman and chief executive officer of Mesirow from 1994 to 2011. He joined the firm in 1980 as a research associate and rose through the ranks becoming CEO in 1992 and chairman and CEO in 1994. During his tenure as CEO, he led the business through 50 acquisitions.

He put together the investment group that rescued the Chicago Sun-Times and its sister publications out of bankruptcy prior to their sale last year to local investment group Wrapports LLC.

Tyree was a member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and served on the boards of the Executives Club of Chicago, University of Chicago Medical Center, and City Colleges of Chicago – among more than 50 corporate, civic and non-profit boards he served on throughout his career.

To be eligible for the award, companies must be from the six-county Chicago metropolitan area, have been in business for a minimum of three years and have revenues of at least $500,000, but less than $10 million. The company also must have demonstrated substantial growth over the previous three years, have at least 10 employees and must be active in local or regional civic/philanthropic initiatives.

The deadline to apply for the award is April 20.

For more information and to apply for the award, visit Jimtyreeaward.com.