Powell River Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards returns for its 24th year on the first Saturday in February 2019.
The banquet ceremony held at Dwight Hall is a popular gathering for the estimated 1,000 businesses, organizations and not-for-profit businesses in the region to network and celebrate their achievements. This year’s ceremony will feature some significant changes in hopes of streamlining the evening, according to chamber manager Kim Miller.
“This is definitely the first year we’ve decided to revamp them so drastically,” she said.
The number of awards is down from 15 to 13 as some categories were combined, others removed and one new award created.
“We’ve eliminated four and amalgamated two awards, and added Employee of the Year,” said Miller.
Acknowledging the individuals who make up businesses is a welcome addition, she added.
“Employee of the Year is really important for this community,” said Miller. “That’s going to be a popular one because there are a lot of employees and managers in this community who really deserve to have that recognition.”
Two customer service categories, for retail and hospitality, have been combined into one award and the award for large business of the year has been phased out. However, the definition of a small business has increased from 10 employees or fewer to include businesses that employ up to 20 people.
“This community is mostly built on small and home-based businesses,” said Miller. “I think that category will cover most of them.”
Larger businesses will not be overlooked as they are still eligible for nomination in many other categories, she added.
Another time-saving measure is to forgo reading out the name of each nominated business before an award is announced. Instead, the judging committee will choose a group of five finalists that will be called up to the stage. Each will receive an award and a winner will then be announced.
An addition planned for 2020 is an award suggested by City of Powell River’s sustainability committee recognizing businesses that are making efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.
“I know there are a lot of businesses in this community that are really striving to make that more apparent in their business,” said Miller.
Every business in the community is eligible to be nominated and anyone can do the nominating, added Miller. The judging panel consists of seven anonymous businesspeople from many sectors throughout the community.
“It needs to be an independent panel,” said Miller. “These are not the chamber awards, these are the community awards.”
Over her years of involvement with the chamber and work organizing the event, Miller said the education never stops.
“This is going to be my 20th year of putting the awards on,” she said. “I’ve learned so much of the business community over these years, and I still find it as exciting as the first time.”