The year 2020 will remain historic for several reasons and while the difficulties facing every facet of life seemed to arrive in spades, let it be said the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce persevered.
The chamber was initially forced to shelve its business recognition programme concept due to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. Undeterred, the Chamber developed and presented an online awards show on Thursday evening that was equal parts enjoyable and educational.
Scores of viewers tuned in to see over 40 Prince Edward County business who have demonstrated a passion for excellence be recognized at the 2020 Prince Edward County Business Excellence Awards sponsored by the County of Prince Edward.
Executive Director of The Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce Lesley Lavender said the business awards panel of judges were impressed by the calibre of companies represented and every company that is nominated receives careful attention. All nominated companies are evaluated based on the category criteria, including community contributions and business leadership.
“The 41 nominees have shown great resilience overcoming the challenges that businesses are currently facing by adapting their operations and stepping up as community leaders. We were thrilled to be able to celebrate and honour them during this particularly challenging time for business,” Lavender said.
“We were pleased to move forward with this inaugural event, despite not being able to host in person. We were delighted to recognize and honour this year’s finalists through a reimagined, virtual experience. The priority for this event was to not only adapt to the changing landscape that COVID-19 has brought on but to showcase business excellence while at the same time reinvesting in our community and local economy,” added Lavender.
The Chamber thanked the 14 judges who scored businesses in six different categories. Master of Ceremonies Steve Anthony kept the mood light and flowing even when a technical blip would arise. The Chamber also thanked BG Marketing Authority and OneLook Productions as well as all the awards ceremony sponsors and swag bag contributors.
Among the winners on Thursday evening, The County Cider Company took home the 2020 Business of the Year award sponsored by the Picton Gazette.
“This is huge for us. After being here for 25 years and the start of the really big tourism boom it feels good to be recognized for the hard work (Late founder) Grant (Howes) started so long ago,” County Cider’s Jennifer Dean told the Gazette.
After the award was announced, Dean mentioned wishes of congratulations came from throughout the Prince Edward County craft beverage and culinary sector through emails and text messages which she and her staff deeply appreciated.
As with any commercial entity, the COVID pandemic has hit hard and Dean mentioned business has been down nearly 50 per cent.
“A year ago, we didn’t know which way to turn. We had to pivot and pivot and reinvent things daily and keep moving forward and do whatever we can to keep moving ahead,” Dean said. “Luckily we are classified as an essential business but it’s been tough and I know it’s been hard for a lot of businesses.”
County Cider is looking ahead towards brighter days and planning for post-pandemic operations. Among them is a legacy series cider that includes a rosé variety that will feature a blend of Del-Gatto Estates baco noir.
Littlejohn Farm and Oeno Gallery were also nominated as 2020 Businesses of the Year.
Other award winners (indicated in bold) and nominees included:
EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR (sponsored by McDougall Insurance)
ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES AWARD (sponsored by OneLook Productions)
Field Bird Cider
Tri Canadian Energy
NOT FOR PROFIT AWARD (sponsored by Centre For Workforce Development)
Community Care For Seniors
PEC Memorial Hospital Foundation
ROC, PEC Youth Centre
ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT (sponsored by Community Futures)
Empty Nest B&B
Old Salt Cocktails
The County Guys
The Lunch Box
Vic Drive In
BEYOND BUSINESS AWARD (sponsored by Wilkinson Chartered Accountants)
Department Of Illumination
Hitchons Hearing Centre
Mcdougall Insurance Picton
Nash Home Hardware Wellington
Walts Sugar Shack