Chamber of Commerce hands out 24th annual Business Awards

Last Wednesday the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce handed out its annual awards to businesses and employees throughout the region.

Causeway Insurance owner John Homer provided the laughs as MC and La Place Rendez-Vous provided the meal and banquet hall as the Chamber handed out 11 awards to businesses and their employees throughout the Fort Frances Area.

The winners were as follows:

Business Woman of the Year – Kim-Jo Bliss

Home Based Business – Border Blooms Fort Frances – Janet Kuiack

New Business Award 1-3 Years – Ski’s Variety – Jon & Janice Neurinski

Customer Service Award (Business) – Lidkea Optometry – Bruce Lidkea/Bob Lidkea

Customer Service (Individual) – Mika Curiston – Betty’s

Business of the Year 1-15 Employees – Holmlund Financial – Adrian Chapman

Business of the Year 16+ Employees – Northwestern Health Unit – Fort Frances Office

Test of Time – Lidkea Optometry – Bruce Lidkea/Bob Lidkea

Pivot Award – La Place Rendez-Vous – Sarah Noonan

Indigenous Award – Big Grassy Medical Supplies – James Comegan

Award of Excellence – Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services and Northwestern Health Unit, Fort Frances Branch.

Kim Jo Bliss is the manager of the Emo Agricultural Research Station, and the owner of Bliss farms she was pleasantly surprised and grateful for the award recognizing her as “Business Woman of the Year.”

“I was extremely humbled,” Bliss said. “I was surprised when I got the call in a voicemail that I had been nominated and of course I was pleased, but also shocked. I don’t feel much like I’m a business woman in a lot of ways because I spend a lot of time just being a farmer. There were a lot of great people in that room and even in that category that were just as worthy of winning.”

Lidkea Optometry won two awards, one for best customer service as a business, and another for standing the test of time.

Dr. Bruce Lidkea and his father Bob accepted the awards.

“I wasn’t prepared, and I didn’t write an acceptance speech, because looking at all of the great businesses in both categories I wasn’t expecting to win,” Bruce said. “The last few years have been tough for all small businesses and certainly it’s always nice to be recognized, for the good work you’re doing within your profession and within your community, I really appreciate the accolades.”

La Place Rendez-Vous was the winner of the “Pivot” award for being able to do things differently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotel did several things differently to help keep afloat during the pandemic. Including renting rooms for day use for people who couldn’t go to their offices but needed to get out of their homes. They also hosted drive thru wing nights where customers could order their chicken wings online and come pick them up and reheat them at home. Sarah Noonan is the owner of the hotel.

It was flattering to be nominated for an award and it was really exciting to win and I think I feel really proud of how we pivoted during the pandemic,” Noonan said.

Noonan also said the hotel was happy to be able to host an event like the Chamber of Commerce Awards. The event came as the wedding season was winding down for the hotel.

“We haven’t had many events like that, that were over 100 people, just a couple of weddings this season before, so it was nice to have a chance to gather for sure,” Noonan said. “In a really cheesy way it’s just kind of heartwarming, and you appreciate it at a deeper level. Personally, it was a special evening for me and I felt really proud to host it at our location too.”

Executive Director of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, Heather Johnson was very happy with the event.

“It was a wonderful evening, and a wonderful meal. We were happy to be able to recognize so many great businesses,” Johnson said.

John Homer MCd the awards night, which were hosted by Sarah Noonan of LaPlace Rendez-Vous. The facility was also a winner. – Allan Bradbury photo