MENDOTA – The Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce has selected Larry Gies as Grand Marshal of the 2022 Sweet Corn Festival Parade.
Gies was born in Rockford, but moved to Mendota with his family at the age of 3 and is a 1984 graduate of Mendota High School. Having spent the majority of his early life in Mendota, Gies has many great memories of the Annual Sweet Corn Festival. One such memory is the first time he brought his wife Beth to the Beer Garden, where the band was playing “Sweet Home Alabama.” Larry and Beth Gies met while attending the University of Illinois, and they now have two sons and one daughter of whom they are very proud.
Today, Gies is the founder and CEO of Madison Industries, a Chicago-based company that is recognized as “one of the largest and most successful privately held companies in the world” (www.madison.net). The mission of Madison Industries is to make the world safer, healthier and more productive world, both today and well into the future. According to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, by whom Gies was honored as an Influential Leader in 2020, Madison “is focused on building a legacy that will improve the public’s collective health and well-being” and has done so by supporting local entrepreneurs who have gone on to become highly successful in their respective fields of business.
A philanthropist, Gies is especially passionate about democratizing education. To that end, in 2017 Larry and Beth Gies contributed $150 million to their alma mater to create access to a great education for those who would not otherwise have the ability to attend college. During an interview with the Mendota Reporter in 2019, Gies said of the monumental donation, “Regardless of income, class or culture, education levels the playing field and creates opportunities for everyone to have a meaningful and purposeful life.”
Gies’ philosophy and activism stems in part from working with the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, which eventually led him to play a key role in founding The Gies Campus of Chicago Jesuit Academy, a full scholarship school for third through eighth grade boys on Chicago’s West Side. As noted by the AACSB, “Gies believes that neither cost nor access should be a barrier to a superior education.” Gies further demonstrates his commitment to providing educational opportunities by acting as the President of the Gies Foundation and serving on the boards of both Northwestern University (from which he also holds a degree) and the Accelerate Institute.
Gies, a featured speaker at a number of universities, told The Mendota Reporter in 2019 that, “We all want to find a purpose in life and be passionate about it.” In reflecting on the influence that Mendota has had upon the course of his life, Gies stated, “The people of Mendota are the reason I am able to have some positive impact on the world, and I am forever grateful!”
Being named the 2022 Sweet Corn Festival Parade Grand Marshal has been a nostalgic experience for Gies. He vividly recalls, “hanging out with Barrett, Bromo, McPheeters, and Goslin at the carnival; working in the Beer Garden with Jeff Simonton; and running the Sweet Corn Festival 10K with Dan Bergland and Larry O’ Brien.” He also fondly remembers, “selling sweet corn for the Rotary Club with my dad” and attending many “amazing reunions with my classmates.”
The Mendota Chamber sincerely hopes that everyone will come out to the Grand Parade on Sunday, Aug 14 with Larry Gies and create another wonderful Sweet Corn Festival memory for all of us!