2011 Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards winners.

2011 Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards winners.

Chamber seeking award nominees

Time is running out to get those nominations in for the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce annual Business Excellence Awards.

Time is running out to get those nominations in for the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce annual Business Excellence Awards.

The deadline for the ever-popular event, open to both chamber members and non-members, is 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20. The gala itself goes Saturday, March 17 at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.

“The chamber awards are getting larger and larger every year, and companies are starting to see a lot of value in being recognized,” said Ken McLeod, Vernon chamber president. “Just being nominated is a pretty big kudos.

“It’s adding to the credibility of being a chamber member and because it’s being recognized in the community and there’s a lot of value behind it.”

The 10 award categories include: Small Business of the Year; New Business of the Year; Professional Service Award; Community Supporter of the Year; Employer of the Year; Sterling Service; Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Marketer of the Year; Green Business of the Year; and, new for this year, Exporter of the Year.

“The idea for the exporter award arose from a desire to focus attention on this important contribution to the Vernon economy, to recognize leaders and to stimulate local businesses into considering exporting as a means to expanding their own business,” said George Duffy, chamber general manager.

“Many people think of export as only product exporting, but international trade in services is the fastest growing segment.”

Trade in services includes knowledge-based services, such as design or engineering, where the work is done locally and the knowledge is exported; services consumed locally by non-nationals such as tourism services; services performed and consumed outside the area such as on-site consulting or training; and services like finance and insurance that are provided locally to foreign customers.

From small, home-based businesses to large corporations, anyone can be put forward for a chamber award. Nomination forms and criteria are available at www.vernonchamber.ca. Nominators are not required to do more than simply fill out the nomination form.

All nominees will be recognized at the awards and are eligible for the prestigious Business of the Year Award, won last year by VantageOne Financial Services.

The top three nominees in each category, as chosen by an independent panel of business  owners and community leaders, will be announced before the gala event at a sponsor and nominee appreciation evening (date TBD). The top three will then have a video produced about their businesses that will be shown at the awards.

MacLeod says business owners look forward to dressing their best for the gala event, which usually sells out.

“People dress up for it. And it’s not just the owners. They’ll bring their key staff with them and make it a real event. It’s always good to celebrate with the people you work with,” he said.

Looking forward to the new year, MacLeod adds the chamber is focussed on increasing the value of being a chamber member.

“We’ve got a very dynamic board, and we’ve come up with a theme of economic development and member value. Our goal is to increase the value and support for all members and to… focus on having economic value to the process.

“We’re in the business of supporting businesses in the community that belong to the chamber. We’ve simplified our strategic processes so they’re streamlined and very direct, and it’s working very well. I’m enjoying this this year.”

n The Vernon chamber will be hosting a pre-budget consultation with Colin Mayes, Okanagan/Shuswap MP, Thursday, Jan. 26, 8 to 10 a.m., at the chamber office (102-2901 32 Street).

Discussion topics include Canada’s Economic Action Plan, federal budget spending, priorities for short- and long-term growth in the private sector, and Canada’s situation in the global economic recovery.

“We can listen to see where people feel the dollars need to be allocated,” said MacLeod. “Hopefully there will be enough of a voice from the community that we can influence where those dollars are going to be invested in this area.”

RSVP required as seating is limited. To reserve a place, e-mail events@vernonchamber.ca, or call 250-545-0771.