A British Columbia small business support agency is hoping the community will recognize Nelson and other Kootenay small businesses this year as the 19th edition of the Small Business BC Awards is underway.
In an interview with Vista Radio, SBBC content coordinator Darren Dunne says the entrepreneurial spirit has always been alive in western Canada as people in the olden days travelled west in search of their fortune and “that spirit lives on.”
Dunne says 98 per cent of B.C. businesses are a small business, meaning they have fewer than 50 employees.
Small Business BC has two categories this year where the public can nominate local businesses or those businesses can nominate themselves.
The first is the SBBC Business Impact Award which is narrowed down to a top five after voting and judging. Those five businesses then do a pitch to a judging panel in a Dragon’s Den-like competition, Dunne explained.
The second is the Premier’s People’s Choice Award, which is strictly collecting the most votes through various public channels like social media.
Even though the voting has been open since Jan. 20, Dunne says that doesn’t mean businesses nominated earlier have an advantage. “We’ve actually seen businesses who are nominated in the last week and only had five or six days to get votes, we’ve seen them make the cut.”
Dunne says they’ve seen some imaginative ideas for businesses garnering votes, like one firm promising to plant a tree for every vote they receive. The final vote tallies are also “normalized” based on B.C. Census data so large centers like Vancouver don’t have an advantage over small communities.
The winners take home a share of a $15,000 purse with $8,000 for the winner of the SBBC Business Impact Award and $1,500 for the winner of the Premier’s People’s Choice Award.
Dunne says the Nelson area has been represented in the past with leather goods maker Popov Leather making the top five in 2020, cheese manufacturer Enercheez a top five in 2019, as well as Finley’s Bar & Grill, Sage Tapas & Wine Bar and SkinBliss Medi Spa making the top 10 in previous years.
As of last week, 15 companies from the Kootenays have been nominated in places like Fernie, Creston, Castlegar and Invermere.
The nominations are open until Feb. 28 and then the reveal will happen during a virtual awards gala on April 28. You can nominate a business by clicking here.