Celebrating local businesses who go the extra mile

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It’s been described as the Oscars for small businesses.

Businesses from all over the Lakeland will be honoured after being nominated for the annual Lakeland Business of the Year Awards (BOYA). This year, it will be taking place on Oct. 12  at the Centennial Centre.

“(The event) is a partnership between the Bonnyville and District Chamber of Commerce and the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. It’s an awards ceremony we put on together to honour businesses in the Lakeland,” explained executive director of the Bonnyville Chamber Serina Parsons.

Nominations were open over the summer for anyone who wanted to recognize a business that provided unforgettable customer service, has given back to the community, and worked hard to be the best they can be.

“It’s a time where we recognize our great business leaders in town, and it’s based on people recognizing the great services these people provide.” detailed Ben Fadeyiw, president of the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Once the deadline was reached for nominations, businesses completed a questionnaire about themselves, which was submitted to a panel of judges.

“It’s important to note that it’s not about how many nominations you receive,” Parsons expressed. “Businesses can be nominated 10 times, but we only take the first nomination and we send the information provided to us by the business to our judges. Then, the judges decide who wins for each category.”

Outstanding large business, outstanding small business, most promising new business, outstanding not-for-profit, customer service excellence, and community involvement are the awards up for grabs.

“Within this community, it’s important that we recognize our small and large businesses. We’ve had a less economic year, and it’s a great way to get those businesses’ names out there and really help them,” Parsons detailed, adding these businesses have thrived and become examples of great service in the Lakeland.

Fadeyiw noted, “It’s the Oscars of businesses. We recognize (their hard work) and it’s always good to give people a pat on the back for doing a great job.”

Parsons and Fadeyiw both enjoy the event’s fun atmosphere, and seeing business owners enjoying themselves.

“They’re happy being there, and just being nominated… They’re excited that they got nominated, and that people took the time to (appreciate them),” added Fadeyiw.

One of the businesses nominated this year in the not-for-profit category was the Dove Centre, whose goal was to build their relationship with the community. They see the nomination as confirmation of their actions.

“It felt good that somebody recognized what we were doing in the community,” recalled Robert Goulet, CEO for the centre.

He sees it as validation for the people they support in the area, and what the staff do for the community as a whole.

“I’m excited to attend because I’ve never been before. Just being recognized is recognition enough. If we don’t win, it’s fine. We’re just happy someone put our name in there and showed us that we’re on the right track,” Goulet said.

Another group up for an award this year is Safety Buzz Ltd. They’re excited to be included in the list of nominees.

“We’ve been operating in the community for 15 years now, and Amy and myself both grew up in Bonnyville and were raised here. It’s nice to receive recognition from the community we’ve been a part of for so long,” said co-owner Dawn McMillan. “The Chambers put on a really nice event, and it’s good to see other businesses in the community and be recognized for the efforts that we’ve put in.”

Premier Academy Cheerleading and Tumbling is a new business in the area. They’ve received their first nomination for the BOYAs, and owner Melissa Kirkendall couldn’t be more thrilled.

“It felt great, it felt really great. There was a lot of long hard work last year and it looks like it paid off,” she detailed.

Receiving the nomination alone was a great achievement for Premier Academy. Kirkendall is looking forward to the evening.

“It’s great exposure for us… It’s letting people know that we’re here, and that people recognize our company.”

Being identified for excellent service isn’t new for the Bonnyville and District Daycare Centre, but executive director Kim Harvey said they were still surprised to hear they’d made the short list for the BOYAs.

“This year, we were actually nominated for two different things,” she exclaimed, adding their name was drawn for the children’s ministry award as well.

The BOYA nomination was a reaffirmation for the centre that what they offer is being appreciated, and that they should keep up the good work.

“What we’re doing in the community means something, and that other people acknowledge that we’re trying to better out community. It’s awesome,” said Harvey.

Another group nominated for the BOYAs is the Dragonfly Counselling and Support Centre. Executive director Cheryl Bujold sees the acknowledgement as a nod from the community on the services they offer.

“We’ve been in operation now just over three years with a full staff team, and it holds so much significance for us this year because, we feel we’re experiencing a small cultural shift in the way society’s looking at issues surrounding sexual violence. We felt it was a timely nomination, and a powerful one,” she expressed.

Bujold continued, “We’re very excited… There’s a group of us on our team that have been with the centre since the beginning, and have experienced the rapid growth that we’ve had… The nomination is a celebration for us, for sure,” she exclaimed.

For more information on the BOYAs, call the Bonnyville and District Chamber of Commerce at 780-826-3252 or the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce at 780-594-4747.

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