The year 2020 will be remembered as one where popular award programs were delivered remotely over the internet.
The Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce followed suit on Dec. 10 with the delivery of its annual awards program on Youtube over the noon hour.
“Every year, we are thrilled to come together to celebrate the innovation and creativity of businesses built in our own backyard who are powerful economic drivers in our local community and — in spite of COVID-19 — this year was no exception,” the chamber said in a news release. “In fact, many of these we celebrate because of COVID. The Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce hosted its Outstanding Business Excellence Awards virtually this year and, while we couldn’t have all the usual festivities, we celebrate them nonetheless.”
Hosts of the event were chamber president Sue Downs and her frequent sidekick on emcee detail Alan Duthie. Together, they revealed the following 2020 winners in their respective categories:
Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Joy Bakery Cafe of Robinson Street in Simcoe.
Outstanding Community Service Award: Joint winners this year are the Norfolk County Public Library system and the Simcoe Restore, Habitat for Humanity of Park Road.
Outstanding Business Achievement Award (Agriculture, Industry and Manufacturing sector): Schuyler Farms Ltd. of Simcoe.
Outstanding Business Achievement Award (Retail/Services sector): The Blue Elephant Restaurant of Norfolk Street South in Simcoe.
Chamber Champion Award: Meadow Lynn Farms and Garden Market
Inclusive Employer Award: Rona Hardware of Davis Street East in Simcoe.
Award sponsors this year include Eastlink Business, Fanshawe College, Millards, the Norfolk Association for Community Living, Toyotetsu, Simcoe Reformer and Good Redden Klosler.
“This year, our sponsors really stepped up and we are so grateful to them,” Linda Branderhorst, general manager of the chamber, said in a news release.
“During COVID, asking businesses to support at a higher level than last year didn’t seem like the right thing to do but they’re pretty incredible and did not hesitate.”
Due to the pandemic, the chamber did not name a recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award. Many teens did not engage in their usual entrepreneurial activities this summer due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The chamber is confident that won’t be the case in 2021,” the chamber said. “This presented an opportunity for award sponsor Fanshawe College to pivot, and because there were many nominations for the Outstanding Community Service Award and the committee could not narrow it down to just one, two were selected.”
The Dec. 10 ceremony ran a little less than half an hour. It is also available for viewing at https://simcoechamber.on.ca/business-achievement-awards-night/
“Its always nice to recognize our local businesses but particularly during this difficult time,” says Alison Muir, chair of the chamber’s promotions and events committee. “It is an honour for the Simcoe chamber to have a hand in recognizing some of our excellent businesses here in Norfolk County.”