Local businesses were in the spotlight last night at the 15th-annual Bell Business Awards at La Place Rendez-Vous.
Lidkea Optometry was honoured as Business of the Year (1-15 employees).
Other nominees for that award included Ron’s Auto Body, Greensides General Store, Northern Lights Credit Union, Citi Financial, A Little Off the Top, Nor-West Animal Clinic, Webb’s Power Shack, Causeway Insurance, Camp Narrows Lodge, Rainy River True Value, John Gavel Custom Manufacturing Co. Ltd., and Fort Duty-Free.
Shaw Communications was deemed Business of the Year (16+ employees) over MacDonald Motors, La Place Rendez-Vous, Tompkins Hardware, and Iron Range Bus Lines.
BDO Canada LLP was named Small Business Trainer of the Year, with Mark Caron (M.L. Caron Electric), the Valley Adult Learning Association, and Strachan Trucking also were up for the award.
Jim Badiuk of Badiuk Equipment was chosen as Entrepreneur of the Year.
Other nominees for that award included Dale and Elizabeth Fortes (Boston Pizza), Cecile Lavigne (Squeek E Klean), Randy Hogan (Hogan Hockey), Todd Moxham (Cater 2 U), Lindsay Hamilton (Little Beaver Snow Cultural Centre), and Monique Dufresne (The Lawg Caybun Restaurant).
Fort Frances General Supply, meanwhile, won the award for Customer Service (business).
Manitou Forest Products, North Auto, Lowes Furniture, Nor-West Animal Clinic, CIBC, Badiuk Equipment, Stan’s Carpet, Starbucks, and Darryl’s Custom Landscapes also were nominated for the honour.
Shelley Matias of the Royal Bank won for Customer Service (individual).
Also nominated in that category were Debra Elias (Revco Carpet), Theresa Dobie (Northern Lights Credit Union), Matt Sweigard (Sight & Sound), Krista Kellar (Citi Financial), Russ Ling (Taggs Source for Sports), Neila Booth (Northwoods Gallery & Gifts), Chris Dittaro (Lakewood Tire), and Ryan Hood (Canada Safeway).
Angela Korzinski of Rusty Myers Flying Service was chosen as Business Woman of the Year.
Also nominated for that award were Roberta Parker (Mr. Sub), Sherry Kaun (Share Bears), Erin Wood (Simplicity Professional Hair & Body Care), Tonia Dolph (Northland Kitchen & Design Consulting), and Dawn Gustafson (Lifetime Smiles).
Rochelle Mosbeck of CIBC was named Employee of the Year over Penny Flatt (Northwoods Gallery & Gifts), Don Larson (Ed Kaun & Sons), and Gord Watson (Ed Kaun & Sons).
Joan Allison, best known for her years with the Riverside Foundation for Health Care, was chosen as the recipient of the Tony Beyak Memorial Volunteer of the Year (she was unable to attend last night’s gala so Mary Jane Pearson accepted the award on her behalf).
Other nominees in the category included Joelle Blanc, Doug Cain, Allan Bedard, and Bill Krukoski.
Canada Safeway won the Town of Fort Frances Accessibility Award over the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre and Community Living Fort Frances and District.
Finally, Gingrich Wood Craft Inc. was honoured with the Safety Award, beating out Union Gas and the Rainy River District School Board.
This year’s awards drew a total of 69 nominees, with about 170 people attending the gala.
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Harold Wilson emceed the evening once again this year, providing plenty of humour, while local chantreuse Brittany Hayes sang a set, bringing some folks down memory lane with a selection of classic songs.
Given the event was sponsored by Bell Alliant, Doug Caul, regional manager of field services, also shared a few words of support for the event.
The gala also was an occasion for outgoing Chamber president Cathy Emes to welcome incoming president Mark Caron.