For the Second Time, EDAG Names Janet Fiorenzo Park Forest Business Person of the Year

Janet Fiorenzo and Mike Jordan
2019 Business Person of the Year Janet Fiorenzo with EDAG member Mike Jordan. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The award has only been in existence since 2009. This year, it has gone full-circle. For the second time, Janet Fiorenzo has been named Business Person of the Year. She was the first recipient of the honor when it was created. (Janet Fiorenzo of Tower Cleaners is Park Forest Business Person of the Year)

Janet has been a stalwart in the local business community for 22 years. Long-time residents certainly remember Tower Cleaners at its first location in Tower Plaza, a location she was forced to leave that location when the landlord gave her and Faso Pizza an ultimatum: begin paying taxes landlords pay or leave. (Tower Cleaners and Faso Pizza Face Big Move)

The award is given through the Economic Development Advisory Group (EDAG). Chair Phillip Perkins made the presentation at last Monday’s Village Board Meeting.

“Every year since the first Business Person of the Year award, someone has nominated Janet Fiorenzo, owner of Tower Cleaners as the Park Forest Business Person of the Year,” Mr. Perkins said. “Ten years have passed since she was recognized as the first Business Person of the Year. Since that time, Sam Montella, EDAG’s chairman for a decade, who generated the idea of honoring a business owner for doing more than day-to-day business operations, has passed away. Sam recognized that good business owners contribute to their local community’s wellbeing in ways that are above and beyond their daily business routine. He also believed that a business’s success and longevity are directly tied to community relationships. Long-standing businesses are a cornerstone of community identity. A community with business owners who volunteer, take up local causes and give back are the backbone of more resilient communities. That resiliency translates to community pride.” 

“After Sam’s passing, the EDAG members changed the award name to honor Sam. Each year during the two months that staff collects the nominations and EDAG reviews the nominations, we come to a greater appreciation of how and why local businesses thrive,” Mr. Perkins continued. “Through this recent nomination process, EDAG discovered that Janet, as owner of Tower Cleaners, donates her dry cleaning services to a variety of causes, programs, and agencies. For no charge. For no charge, Janet cleans all the tablecloths for the Park Forest Library, the clothing, and bedding for the Park Forest Veteran’s Closet, all the rugs and doll clothing for the Historical Society, and the table cloths for the Park Forest Police Department. Her benevolence extends to School District 163, where she cleans all of their tablecloths, the sweaters for 8th graders, and the dresses and tuxedo shirts for the drama group. She even repairs and de-pills student sweaters. Plus she provides a pizza lunch for all the students’ dress rehearsal for the ‘Opera in the Classroom’ program at Freedom Hall and then she attends the events. Janet cleans the altar linens and robes for any domination and faith church in both Park Forest and Chicago Heights. She has been donating the dry cleaning services for years.”

Chairman Perkins noted that Ms. Fiorenzo’s passion for helping others goes beyond giving complimentary dry cleaning services.

“This year she is also donating all old orders of clothing for a clothing drive at a local church,” he said. “She contributes toys for church toy drives. She saves the leftover paper rolls for student art projects arranged by local artist and business owner Patricia Moore. She saves newspapers for the local window washer. She gives plant clippings to local gardeners.

“In 2009, following a knee replacement, she took up yoga at the Rich Township Senior Center to strengthen her knee. Now, Janet fills in for the yoga instructor on days that the instructor is not available.”

For the past 20 years, Ms. Fiorenzo has been an active board member of the Steger/South Chicago Heights Library, Mr. Perkins said.

“She is recognized as an ‘ambassador of goodwill’ for the Village,” he continued. “When prospective commercial and office tenants ask her opinion, she candidly and favorably endorses her 22 years of experience in Park Forest, with 12 years in the Downtown and 10 years at her location at Tower Plaza.

“In 2009, she was credited with holding seasonal jobs for returning college students. Now, we’ve learned that she hires seniors – not high school students, but the grey-haired, reliable, local seniors who are willing and able to work until 7 pm and weekends.

“She continues to support Kiwanis with ticket sales for the Park Forest Kiwanis Pancake Day and bell ringing, she participates in the annual Safe Halloween event in DownTown Park Forest, supports Park Forest Youth Day, and she still prepares and distributes Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for families in need.

“In recognition of consistently giving back, Janet Fiorenzo, please accept this trophy as our recognition of you as the 2019 Park Forest Business Person of the Year.”

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