“Small Business Week is celebrated during this week every year throughout communities across Canada,” chamber president Robert Steinbach said during the awards ceremony. “Here on Salt Spring, we depend on the hundreds of small businesses that have chosen to locate here and the invaluable services they provide in making Salt Spring the great community that it is. This is but one small way in which we can honour them for their contribution to our community and the island economy.”
Press material explains the week began with six free business seminars held at Gulf Island Secondary School from Monday to Wednesday, made possible by partnerships with several sponsors.The seminars were deemed “a major success” with over 160 people attending sessions for identifying your entrepreneurial idea, how to write a business plan, branding, marketing and social media, financing your business and succession planning. “Requests have already been made to continue the program and tailor some of the sessions to specific industries such as the construction trades and the artist/studio/gallery businesses,” the press release noted.
Thursday night’s gala was equally successful. Members of the Flying Dreams Aerial Arts troupe entertained a sold-out crowd of more than 80 guests with an impressive aerial circus performance, following a cocktail mixer and buffet banquet. The dinner was catered by Del Vecchio Pasta & Fresca and Marketplace Café.
Donna Robinson, manager of Island Savings, and Mike Best, treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, were the evening’s emcees. The awards, covering nine categories, were presented between the two acts of the aerial acrobatics show.
This year, there were a record 61 nominations for nine award categories. An independent panel of judges, selected by Island Savings staff, reviewed and reduced the nominations list to three finalists per category and then selected the winner.
The winners of the 2011 businesses of the year were: Barb’s Bakery and Bistro (more than 15 employees); Bellavance Welding for small business (less than 15 employees); Al’s Gourmet Falafel and Fries for new business; Island Pathways for nonprofit/association; Island Escapades for tourism; Duck Creek Farm for agriculture/farm business; Solace Organic Spa for green business; David Griffiths at Mouat’s Hardware for outstanding customer service; and Dan Fogerty of Prime Student Painting for young entrepreneur (under 25).
The Chamber of Commerce thanked the 15 sponsors of its Small Business Week and the Community Business Excellence Awards that made the entire program such a success.
They include Island Savings Credit Union as presenting sponsor; SS Metal Recycling, Service Canada, GISS, School District #64, the Connecting Generations Program, Island Savings and Thrifty Foods as sponsors of the business seminars; and Driftwood Publishing, SportsTraders, Li Read’s Sea to Sky Realty, Windsor Plywood, Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance, The Wine Cellar, Island Savings, Mouat’s Trading Company and Hastings House Country House Hotel as sponsors of individual business awards.
The awards are not restricted to chamber members. Because of its position as presenting sponsor and its involvement in the selection process, Island Savings, its agents, employees, and managers were not eligible for awards.