As it so happened, the Greater Napanee Business Gala’s newest award was presented to one of the town’s oldest establishments.
Founded in 1876, Lennox and Addington Mutual Insurance was a perfect fit for the Milestone Award, which was the final honour handed out during the town’s annual salute to its businesses. Presented by Napanee Chamber of Commerce director Art Dolan, the award is given to a business with a track record of long-standing success in the community, strong community involvement, ability to adapt in a changing business world and to implement innovative business strategies.
What started as a group of farmers banding together to establish an insurance policy against fires in the village of Newburgh back in March of 1876 has grown into one of the town’s most successful and longest tenured enterprises.
In his opening remarks of the ceremony, which was held Thursday at the Strathcona Paper Centre, Greater Napanee mayor Gord Schermerhorn made note of the diversity of the businesses that were being awarded.
“We just thank you for doing business in our municipality,” said Schermerhorn. “Downtown or wherever you may be, council supports you and I think the municipality as a whole supports you. I get quite upset when some of friends say they leave town to do their shopping and I say we have everything right here, why the heck would you have to go anywhere else?”
The mayor’s comments were backed up by the wide range of businesses that earned hardware on the night.
Ellena’s cafe/restaurant was the top awarded establishment on the evening as owner Ellena Harris-Fleury earned the Napanee Business Improvement Area’s Business of the Year Award while employee Bree Williams was the Greater Napanee Youth Employee Award recipient.
Harris-Fleury was awarded the BIA’s top prize not only for her hard work and successful business practices, but also for her community involvement as the host venue for the Starstop Concert Series.
As for Williams, she rewarded for her ability to maintain good grades while demonstrating a great work ethic and being community-minded. She was presented with a cheque for $250 and a letter of reference from the mayor.
Claire Bouvier and Niki Hodgskiss earned the Young Entrepreneur Award for their Loft Girls business. The award goes to individuals under the age of 30 that have demonstrated entrepreneurial success and a commitment to the community. They have shown effective leadership, profitability and business growth. Though based in Napanee, their mobile fashion truck can travel to various markets. Featuring the latest in eco-fashion, their business model includes a 90 square-foot shopping space located in the back of a pink truck. Their goal is to bring the latest fashion trends to rural communities. Loft Girls officially launched in July with help from the Prince Edward Lennox Addington County Community Futures Development Corporation. In just a few short months the business has already been featured on CBC and in the National Post.
Because the entire community as a whole earning the coveted five blooms score from Ontario’s Community in Blooms, there were plenty of options for the Communities in Bloom Award. Ultimately voters went with Dr. Paul DeMan Dentistry. Owners Paul and Meghan recently completed a one year renovation of their office, adding several colourful plants to their outside landscaping.
Duncan Burke of Burke’s Printing was presented with the Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award. He was selected based on his business growth, excellent custom service and environmental leadership over the last year.
At the close of the ceremony a moment of silence was observed for Chamber of Commerce manager BJ McDonald, who passed away earlier this month.
“BJ was a very family orientated person, he was very proud of his wife and kids,” said Art Dolan, director of the Chamber of Commerce.
He was noted for his tireless devotion to the business community and helping many of the entrepreneurs in attendance to help get their ventures up off the ground.