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Business awards gala set to go

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The nominations are in for the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce's 22nd-annual business awards, with winners to be announced during the gala next Wednesday night (Sept. 12).

The Chamber put out a call early last month and received nominations for 41 different individuals or businesses, executive director Jennifer Soderholm told the Times last week.

A total of 60 nominations were received, with some individuals and businesses being nominated more than once.

The award categories, and the nominees for each of them, include:

  • Business Woman of the Year—Wanda Huitikka-Wipf (Century 21), Pam Williams (4 Your Pets), Alicia Anderson (StyLush Salon), Shawna McRitchie (Sunset Water Sports), Charmaine Langlais (It Must be A Sign), Katie Stus (Great Bear), and Diane Gibson (Gibson Design);
  • New Business Award (one-three years)—StyLush Salon, Sunset Water Sports, It Must Be A Sign, Mortgage Intelligence, Timber Wolf Lodge, R. McNally Electrical & Home Inspections Ltd., and Lake Life Adventures;
  • Customer Service Award (Business)—StyLush Salon, 4 Your Pets, Tim Hortons, Sunset Water Sports, West End Motors, and From the Grind Up;
  • Customer Service Award (Individual)—Chelsey Ogden (Pharmasave), Tanis Lesiuk (Generations Vapour Lounge), Pamela J. Williams (4 Your Pets), Jennifer Horton (Curvy Chick), Pam MacKinnon (RBC Royal Bank), Natalie Armstrong (N.A. Styles), Kory McEvoy (RBC Royal Bank), Shelley Matias (RBC Royal Bank), and Michelle Elias (RBC Royal Bank);
  • Home-Based Business Award—Smashing Tea, It Must Be A Sign, Seacet Division, and Party Rock DJ Services;
  • Small Business Trainer of the Year—Marty DeGagne (Sunset Dynasty Construction), Ted DeBenetti (A Buck or Two), Jamie Davis (JD Plumbing Solutions), Travis Chabot (Chabot All Season Repair), and Jordan Fournier (Wilson Business Solutions);
  • Test of Time Award—La Place Rendez-Vous, Betty's, Cousineau Real Estate, Belluz Concrete & Rentals, and Dairy Queen;
  • Business of the Year (one-15 employees)—Fort Frances General Supply, Sunset Water Sports, StyLush Salon, 4 Your Pets, Curvy Chick, Loewen Greenhouses & Landscaping, and Fort Frances Chiropractic; and
  • Business of the Year (16+ employees)—La Place Rendez-Vous, West End Motors, Tim Hortons, Dairy Queen, Copper River Inn, and Manitou Forest Products.

The Test of Time Award is for businesses that have been around for at least 25 years and continued to change with the times.

Soderholm said the next step is for a handful of impartial judges from the business community to review and score the nominations prior to the gala.

“They'll get copies of the nomination forms that came in,” she explained.

"I've also sent out questions to all of the nominees . . . and those will be included in the judge' package, as well.

"They give the judges a bit more information on the individual or business.

“They'll give them a score, and put them back in the manila envelopes they came in and they get submitted to me,” Soderholm added.

“They'll be doing it individually; the judges are not even together,” she stressed.

“In that way, there's not any kind of influencing.”

Soderholm then will tally all of the scores and determine who the nine winners are.

The judges won't even know who the winners are until they're announced at the awards banquet.

“They'll be as surprised as anybody else,” Soderholm remarked.

As mentioned above, the awards gala will take place next Wednesday (Sept. 12) at La Place Rendez-Vous, with cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30.

Tickets are available now at the Chamber office (274-5773).

They cost $60 each for Chamber members (or a table of eight can be purchased for $420) and $65 each for non-Chamber members (or a table of eight can be purchased for $455).

The meal will feature a fresh tossed garden salad, followed by the main course of herb and dijon mustard-encrusted 'AAA' prime rib, served with thyme and rosemary infused au jus, along with garlic mashed potatoes, green beans almandine, and dinner rolls.

To finish off the meal, the dessert will be a decadent chocolate cake with ganache.

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