Small businesses play big roles in small towns, helping to define a town’s character, vibrancy and future. In recognition of all the work they do, the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce was joined by roughly 200 people for the 22 annual Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala last Friday night.
Held at the Bracebridge Sportsplex from 6 to 9 p.m., over 70 local businesses and business people were nominated for awards in 13 categories. With a red carpet, live music by Isaac Boyes and a full three-course-dinner catered by the Riverwalk Restaurant, the night’s theme of “When a customer walks through your door, what do they experience?” was embodied by half a dozen uniquely decorated doors, courteously donated by nominee Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North.
The night’s celebrations got underway with a networking mingle before a meal punctuated by awards presentations featuring video shorts celebrating the businesses created by Fat Panda Studios.
The night’s first award, for home based business of the year, went to Len’s Discount Carpet Cleaning, the excellent retail customer service award went to the Canadian Tire Gas Bar. The Petite Boutique took home two awards, including the new business of the year award and the young entrepreneur of the year award. Muskoka Furniture took the established business of the year award and Santa’s Village won the 2015 tourism award while Two Guys Auto Service won service provider of the year.
The night’s Daniel Keane Entrepreneurial Legacy Award, given out in memory of student entrepreneur Daniel Keane to students participating the provincial government’s summer company program, went Bracebridge – Muskoka Lakes Secondary School student Bella Gaudie. Gaudie earned the award for her start-up Bumble Breeze that sells all-natural, homemade body care products.
Moreen Miller of Fowler Construction and Darcy Hammond of Muskoka Transport took home the female and male business person of the year awards, respectively. The night’s innovation award went to Lakeland Networks and Paul and Darcy Hammond were received the outstanding contribution to Bracebridge award.
The evening finished with the accessibility award, presented by Bracebridge and District of Muskoka councilor Steven Clement who has served on accessibility committee’s both locally and regionally, went to the Royal Bank of Canada.