The finalists in the different awards categories for the 20th annual Swift Current Business Excellence (SCBEX) Spirit of Swift Current awards were announced during a well-attended event at Great Plains College, Oct. 2.
“It's nice that all the nominees are able to bring out their friends and family and employees and co-workers to celebrate their nomination and the finalists that were awarded tonight,” Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce CEO Karla Wiens said after the announcement. “It's just a lovely night to pat each other on the back.”
The chamber received a record number of nominations from the community. There were 110 nominations across eight award categories.
“Last year we had a total of 42 nominations come in from the community,” she said. “This year we almost tripled that. It's amazing, the level of engagement that Swift Current and area is showing their business community and recognizing outstanding individuals as well.”
She felt the increase in nominations was a result of the chamber's efforts to acknowledge positive contributions through the award categories.
“I think it also helps that we're very active on different social media platforms, we're advertising and this is the second year we've done this mixer early,” she said.
This event used to be on the night before the SCBEX awards gala, but it is now held a few weeks earlier to announce the finalists, which creates some additional excitement for the awards and more awareness about nominees.
“I'm 100 per cent positive there are businesses listed there that a lot of people did not even know were in existence,” she said.
“So it's really nice to shine some light on some businesses and hopefully it generates some action for them.”
The citizen of the year category was created last year and there were six nominees this time. All the other award categories had even more nominees, and in the case of the small business category there were 22 nominees. This year there is also a new nomination category of home based business, for which there were seven nominees.
“For our 20th anniversary we wanted to implement a new award category and there was a lot of ideas thrown out there,” she said.
“The board got together and decided there are an awful lot of mobile people – maybe they're not home based, but they don't have a storefront. That's how I would define a home based business, and it is a unique niche sector of our economy. So we wanted to recognize that sector that might sometimes be forgotten about, but it is just as important to driving our economy.”
There are only three finalist in each award category, but Wiens is convinced the nominated businesses will benefit from receiving that nomination in an awards category.
“We try to spread the word and we want to share it with the general public,” she said. “The more times your name is out there in the public, the more people will think of you and remember seeing that you were nominated for this business excellence award. Clearly they're doing something right and something good, and someone has recognized that. So I think it can't be anything but beneficial to a business to be applauded in this sort of a fashion.”
The business chamber followed the same selection process than last year to determine the finalists and eventual winner in each category. Nominations were submitted by the public, starting in July. In early September the list of nominees was compiled from these submissions.
A selection committee that consisted of last year's SCBEX winners picked the finalists in each category. They did not meet, but made their decision individually without discussion with other members of the committee.
The final decision on the winner in each category was made through a secret ballot at the September meeting of the chamber's board of directors.
“Those envelopes were sealed and we will announce the winners at the SCBEX awards gala on Oct. 26,” she said. “So the board is not going to know until then either.”
It will be the 20th anniversary of the SCBEX awards and this milestone will be celebrated during the awards gala.
“We're going to switch it up and just add some things that will highlight the night,” she said. “Every time you're celebrating an anniversary, it's good to throw some different twist in there.”
The SCBEX Spirit of Swift Current business excellence awards gala will take place at the Living Sky Casino event centre on Oct. 26, and tickets are now available. Call 306-773-7268 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Below are the three finalists in each award category:
Start-up/New Business of the Year award finalists – Dishful Gourmet, Khadra's Table, Olea Oil & Vinegar Tasting Room.
Home Based Business award finalists – Elli-Belle Photography, Imagine Immigration & Consulting, JAG Landscaping & Yard Maintenance.
Small Business of the Year award finalists – Fusion Hair + Body + Shop, Sputtergotch Toy Company, The Landing Studio.
Medium Business of the Year award finalists – Great West Auto Electric/Bumper to Bumper, RE/MAX of Swift Current, Voth's Brandsource.
Large Business of the Year award finalists – Ag Growth International, Buffalo Brew Pub, Stark & Marsh.
Not-for-profit Business of the Year award finalists – Canadian Mental Health, SaskAbilities, Swift Current Ag & Ex.
Employer of Persons with Disabilities award finalists – Giant Tiger, Pharmasave/Starbucks, ServiceMaster Clean.
Citizen of the Year award finalists – Shann Gowan, Larry Johnson, Dr. Tara Lee.
Two other awards will be presented at the awards gala. These recipients are selected by the Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Living Sky Casino will receive the Member Business of the Year award and MNP LLP will be inducted into the Business Hall of Fame.