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Store owned by Wolverine World Wide named best business, those affected by PFAS upset

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 23:22:48-05

ROCKFORD, Mich.  — Every year the Rockford Chamber of Commerce picks a "business of the year." 2019's choice is getting a lot of attention.

The Chamber voted Rockford Footwear Depot as their best business of the year. Rockford Footwear Depot is owned and operated by Wolverine World Wide, the same company responsible for polluting the water in Rockford with toxic chemicals.

"I am stunned," Sandy Wynn-Stelt said.

Sandy Wynn-Stelt's water is contaminated with PFAS. She can't drink the water that comes out of her tap. It's because of tannery waste dumped across the street from her home decades ago.

“It’s so tone deaf to what people are going through,” Wynn-Stelt said.

The Chamber of Commerce says the shoe store is making a big contibution to Rockford, with volunteer efforts and consistently giving back.

“Wolverine did not receive the award, Rockford Footwear Depot received the award, Rockford Footwear Depot is an arm off of Wolverine, so that’s why they were mentioned or tagged,” event coordinator for the chamber, Megan Dean, said.

The Chamber is standing by it's vote.

“We realize that there is a severe issue that’s happening our nation, it’s not just in rockford, so we understand why people might be upset, looking at the broad scheme of things,” Dean said.

Wolverine issued us this statement:

Wolverine Wolrd Wide has been a part of this community for almost 140 years, and we couldn't be more proud to call Rockford our hometown. We are honored to have been selected by the Chamber of Commerce for this recognition, and grateful to our employees for the positive impact they make on our community every day.

Sandy says they have nothing to be proud of.

"I really hope they didn’t mean it to be that way. I really hope they didn’t think it through, but I think it shows how absolutely beholden the town of Rockford is to Wolverine,” Wynn-Stelt.