LACON — To business owner Julie Hubbard, the efforts that have led to her being nominated for a state tourism award are all in the line of duty.
Hubbard, who owns Julie's Corner Store in downtown Lacon and is known as a tireless promoter of the area, is one of 15 finalists for five Lincoln Awards that will be handed out Monday night in Chicago during the 2014 Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism.
The awards honor "behind the scenes stars that go above and beyond for the Illinois tourism industry," the state's Office of Tourism said in a news release. Hubbard was nominated by Lelonie Luft, marketing manager at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which serves Marshall County.
"We are honored to have Julie representing Peoria area. Julie's passion and support for our area could not be more valuable to our community," Luft said in a release.
Hubbard's store is well known for its fudge — her Twitter account is @FudgeGuru — while she also sells Illinois wines and other state products. But the statement listing nominees for awards emphasized her broader efforts on behalf of the area.
"Julie Hubbard has been a huge advocate for Lacon and helps make the town a great tourist destination," it said. "She continually helps to recruit other business owners to open locations in her community, which creates more opportunities and retail options for visitors and residents alike."
Hubbard also is secretary of the local Chamber of Commerce and chairs the Lacon Economic Development Committee, a public-private panel that gets city funding. Even in her own business, she strives for herself and employees to be ambassadors on behalf of the community, she said.
"I want to put this area on the map, and keep it there," she said. "I think that's part of my responsibility, not just as a business owner, but as a member of society."
Winners will receive gold medals reflecting the Olympics theme of this year's conference. Hubbard said she plans to attend the dinner at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago and then return home that night, partly because of an aging pet she does not want to leave overnight, but also for an EDC meeting on Tuesday morning.
"I will be at that meeting," she said.
Gary L. Smith can be reached at (800)516-0389 or email@example.com. Read his Northern Circuit blog at pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @Glsmithx.