Nominations for the 2021 Business Awards through the Whitecourt & District Chamber of Commerce will be accepted until September 24 through an online process. Executive Director of the Chamber, Dana Severson, said the awards are a way for businesses and the general public to highlight and showcase different companies, employees, or organizations that have stood out through the year.
Severson said that there are multiple categories that individuals, businesses, or organizations can be recognized for, saying it's a meaningful way to acknowledge those who go over and above for the community. "Whatever they've experienced has stood out to whoever is choosing to nominate them. It's very significant because for whichever category that the nomination is going for, something was retained by someone, and a positive impact was made that stood out from any other interaction that they've had."
Some nominations are only for specific people like a manager or owner to fill in, but other categories are open to submissions from employees and the general public. "It's based upon who would have the best perspective when nominating for the different categories. Some are only for employers or business owners, or managers to nominate for. They would have a better idea of the interworking's of their operations to provide that quality nomination."
There are two fun categories for employees to jump on board with too. "Employees can nominate where they work as the Best Place To Work or the Best Team of the Year, and that speaks volumes about their employers and the atmosphere they work in," said Severson. "Just having someone take the time to recollect the moment that someone went above and beyond means that it had that lasting impact on them." She said those nominating could select any of the three categories to nominate through (manager/owner, employee, general public) or pick from all three if it fits the situation.
There are nine awards up for grabs, and there are some changes this year. "The business awards have evolved through the years in Whitecourt and especially last year to this year. We've taken out and added different categories just reflective of current events and some of the challenges businesses have been facing in recent years. For example, the Business Innovation, Digital & E-Commerce Business of the Year award didn't exist before this year. We wanted to have people be able to nominate businesses that had to make significant changes to operations and find ways to excel still and rise above while at the same time adapt and change how they do business to do that."
She said that the Business Woman of the Year award is one of the newer ones that quickly became very popular. "Individuals recognize some of the incredible female entrepreneurs that we have in the community." The Lifetime Achievement Award is another popular one. "It's to show those rocks in the business community, those firm standing folks. They show us it can be done and that you can persevere and get through things, and be acknowledged for the commitment of lifetime in growing your business and contributing to our local economy," explained Severson.
Asked which nominations pull at the heartstrings the most, Severson said there isn't a way to pick one. "A lot of them hit the same nerve in a good way. No one's really taking time to put in a submission that's lacklustre, so a lot of the time, you sense the enthusiasm or the emotional impact that's been had on the nominator."
Submissions have increased year after year, with folks putting nominations forward. Last year with restrictions, and many businesses closed, people couldn't do in-person nominations. "It was all online-based, and we got thousands of nominations. We've broken it down a bit more in the categories this year, so we will see where we land on that. If we do a People's Choice Award, then that's the one that's always most popular, where people hammer in the votes." The People's Choice Award only comes into play once the nomination window closes. The Gala night to celebrate nominees and hand out awards to winners remains in a holding pattern with restrictions.
Severson said that the support they received from their membership was overwhelming. "We reached out to our membership for sponsors for each of the different award categories, and we had more sponsors than we had categories available, which was an excellent show of support of these business awards in the business community." Follow the Whitecourt Chamber of Commerce Facebook page to stay updated on the award process and see nominations once listed. To nominate individuals, businesses, or organizations for an award, visit www.surveylegend.com/s/3jkf.
Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press