In a year that has seen local businesses significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce (ACC) hopes the 2020 Airdrie Business Awards will serve as a way for the community to recognize the businesses they love.
“These awards are really inclusive for all Airdrie business,” said Marilyne Aalhus, executive director of ACC. “We want to celebrate business now more than ever. Obviously, businesses have gone through a lot of heartache [and] a lot of trials and tribulations this year.”
Nominations for the Airdrie Business Awards opened June 1 and will be accepted until July 31. Aalhus said seven awards will be handed out this year – Business of the Year, Airdrie Business Leader, Employer Excellence, Emerging Business, Legacy Business, Franchise Business and Business Innovation. Each category has its own specific set of criteria.
“I think a lot of people will be nominated in the innovation category this year,” Aalhus said. “People have had to be so innovative and pivot through this COVID crisis.”
Nominations can be submitted at www.airdriechamber.ab.ca. Aalhus noted businesses can self-nominate in every category except the Business Leader Award. Businesses that were closed for an extended period due to the pandemic remain eligible to be nominated for the awards, she said.
Aalhus added she hopes the community will rally around businesses by taking time to nominate them for the awards.
“They are really the heart of our community,” she said. “If we don’t support them, quite often the community will suffer. This is another really fantastic way for people to understand the great work that these businesses do within their community.”
Beside providing jobs for the local workforce, Aalhus said businesses often serve as sponsor for local events and sports teams and support local non-profits through donations.
This year has been challenging for businesses, Aalhus said. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have seen protracted closures, staff cutbacks and lost revenue.
“I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to support our local businesses, because they are truly what will make Airdrie a vibrant, healthy, prosperous community.”
This year marks the 22nd iteration of the Airdrie Business Awards, and some changes have been made in 2020. The main difference, Aalhus said, comes in how the winners are decided.
“We’ve always had an adjudication process where we have a third party narrow down the finalists,” she said. “There usually are no more than seven finalists per category for the awards ceremony in the fall.”
“In the past, the adjudicators were a third party. They didn’t even know the business name, which was meant to make sure the process was as unbiased as possible.”
While that remains a priority in deciding the winners, Aalhus said ACC wanted to give the community more of a voice in deciding the winners. Although the adjudicators will still have 50 per cent of the vote, community members will also be able to vote on the short-listed candidates in September.
Once the winners are decided, Aalhus said there will be some form of gala where the awards are announced. Depending on restrictions in place related to COVID-19, that gala will either take place in-person at Bert Church LIVE Theatre or will take place virtually. Either way, tickets for the event will be available Sept. 8.
“Usually, if it’s in-person, it’s a really wonderful environment with lots of fun and excitement and laughter and entertainment,” Aalhus said. “If we do have to go the virtual route this year, we’re still going to make it special with a lot of fun, interactive ways to get involved.”