Hope Stewart accepts the Youth Spirit award on behalf of the John Barsby Secondary School leadership team last Thursday at the Nanaimo Business Awards at the Port Theatre. Contributed

Nanaimo Business Awards hand out high honours

More than 20 businesses and non-profit organizations earn recognition at event at Port Theatre

It was another Academy Awards style event at the Port Theatre when the 2018 Nanaimo Business Awards winners were revealed Thursday.

Winners representing individual entrepreneurs to local non-profit organizations in 21 categories were played onto the Port Theatre stage to accept awards recognizing their achievements and contributions to the community.

Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, president and CEO, said the event continues to grow ever since it evolved from a dinner gala into a Hollywood-style awards ceremony.

“We get a much larger turnout,” Smythe said. “We had over 330 people in the audience last Thursday night. Something that helped boost that audience as well is we did part of the thing through a people’s choice online vote, so we had some 230 nominees from the public and then we asked the public to come online and vote for their favourites from which we would choose the top five finalists in each category.”

The strategy generated 4,000 online votes presented to the judges who identified finalists and winners in each of 21 categories.

Winners presented with awards were played onto and off the stage, Academy Awards style, by 10-piece jazz and funk band Decadence.

“They sort of have an idea of the finalists and so they choose appropriate music to go with the category, if not who the winner might be,” Smythe said.

He went on to say the feeling of community spirit predominates the mood of the business awards.

“Nobody wants to leave because they’re having so much fun and such good spirit backstage,” said Smythe.

The chamber’s partnership with non-profit organizations, such as the United Way Central and North Vancouver Island, emphasized the connection between business and community and enhanced the event’s feeling of community spirit as leaders from non-profits were recognized for their contributions.

“Dawne Anderson (Salvation Army envoy) … won two awards, one for herself for the Above and Beyond category, for somebody who does more than they ever really need to, to ensure that we have a healthy, happy community,” Smythe said. “The other was for the Sally Ann for [Not-for-Profit Organization] of the year category.”

Award winners included:

Small Business – NYLA Fresh Thread; Restaurant – Gabriel’s Gourmet Café; Builders and Trades – Mazzei Electric; Health Care Services – Nanaimo Child Development Centre; Retailer – Flying Fish; Mid-Size Business – Longwood Brew Pub; Hospitality Operator – Living Forest Oceanside Campground and RV Park; Social Enterprise – Coco Café; New Business – Tremain Media; Large Business – Island Health; Not-for-Profit Organization – Salvation Army; Technology – Seamor Marine; Corporate Social Responsibility – Habitat for Humanity Mid Vancouver Island; Financial Services – Smythe LLP; Creative Services – Hired Guns Creative; Inclusive Employer – Coco Café; Youth Spirit – Baneesha Gill; Youth Spirit – John Barsby Secondary School leadership team; Above and Beyond – Dawne Anderson, Salvation Army.

For photos of the winners, see page A23 of our May 3 e-edition.


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