Banquet highlights best in business

Transparent process determines Powell River Chamber of Commerce Business Award winners

When the 23rd annual Powell River Chamber of Commerce Business Awards take place on February 3, 2018, local businesses will be recognized in 15 categories. Every one of the estimated 1,000 businesses or organizations in the area, including not-for-profit, fit under one of the categories, which allows residents to recommend their choices for recognition, says chamber manager Kim Miller.

“These awards are for the community to nominate their favourites,” says Miller. “We are seeking to highlight the best in business.”

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Entry forms are available in the December 22 issue of Peak Weekender, December and January issues of Powell River Living, at powellriverchamber.com under the Business Awards drop-down menu, and at the chamber office, 6807 Wharf Street.

Several judging formats have been considered and used to determine winners over the 18 years Miller has been involved with the awards.

“We have used ballot boxes in businesses, popular-choice voting from customers/residents, online forms, drop-off boxes and mailouts,” she says. “We strive to be completely transparent and fair to all businesses, and maintain our organization’s credibility to achieve this daunting task.”

A judging panel consisting of seven anonymous businesspeople is sequestered to go through all nominations received from community residents. Each business is discussed by panel members who, as a group, pick businesses that have gone above and beyond for customers and/or employees.

“There is a chief judge as well as a tiebreaker, and at least three judges are changed every three years,” says Miller. “The judges come from all sectors of business, including financial, retail, hospitality, media, non-profit and home-based.”

Nominated businesses are mailed a bio/information sheet to fill out, which provides judges with more information about how the business operates, staff incentives and customer service.

“They can let judges know about any extras they do for the community at large, as well as for their customers and clients,” says Miller. “These bios are not mandatory, but they are very helpful to the judges.”

Miller says although the chamber does its best to be knowledgeable about every business in the community, there are many the organization still knows very little about.

“It really helps judges make informed decisions if they know more about the nominated businesses,” she adds.

Miller says despite sharing details about the selection process and continuing efforts from the chamber to ensure transparency, misinformation about judging and how winners are chosen is still out there in the community.

“People sometimes ask how or why a certain winner was picked, or why another business was not chosen,” says Miller. “If a business is not nominated, it won’t be on the list that goes to the judging committee.”

Miller says the chamber has reached out to other chambers in the province that put on similar award ceremonies to share and compare processes. The current system developed locally is now being used elsewhere, she adds.

“We feel we have found the most transparent way to pick the winners,” says Miller.

To be eligible for an award, a business has to have been operating for at least one year, with the exception of Business of the Year, which requires five years in business. The nomination period is open until January 19.

“We have businesses that need to be acknowledged and recognized,” says Miller, “that’s what we’re trying to do with these awards.”

The awards will continue to evolve as the community changes, says Miller.

“Every couple of years we take a look and make sure the awards cover all the bases of our community,” she says. “We added an agricultural award a couple of years ago and last year we brought in aboriginal and forestry sector awards. The board is also working on new ideas for next year, too.”

Catered by House of Walls Culinary Magic, Powell River Chamber of Commerce Business Awards takes place Saturday, February 3, at Dwight Hall.

For more information, email office@powellriverchamber.com or call 604.485.4051.

Copyright © 2018 Powell River Peak

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