The finalists were named for the Small Business BC Awards, and Comox Valley businesses are well represented, with Bigfoot Donuts leading the way.
The popular shop in downtown Courtenay is up for three awards: Best Youth Entrepreneur Award, Best Community Impact Award, and the Premier’s People’s Choice Award.
“We made the top five in every category we were nominated in, so that’s pretty exciting,” said Jay Valeri, who co-owns the business with his wife, Lyndsey Bell. “Now we get interviewed and we have to do a pitch on our business, and tell them what we are all about. We really want to showcase the community with that.”
Valeri said that the nominations are a reflection of how supportive the community is toward small businesses.
“The Comox Valley is very unique, and will definitely support local businesses in the community.”
The competition is a three-tiered process.
There were 937 nominations filed for the competition this year, representing 558 small businesses. Once nominated, businesses had until March 8 to gain as many votes as possible from the public, to determine the top 20 in each category.
After being assessed and judged by an internal panel of business experts, the top five finalists in each category were determined.
While there is a third component (the pitch) to the competition prior to the determination of the winners in all other categories, the Premier’s People’s Choice is a unique award category as the winner is selected by the public alone. The voting for that award closed at the same time as all other categories.
Bell said being selected as a finalist in three categories is an affirmation that they are doing things properly at Bigfoot Donuts.
“We measure our success by what the community puts out there for us; if they are supporting us, then we are doing a good job. This definitely demonstrates that.”
Valeri said there will be some kind of customer appreciation event to show their gratitude for all the support.
“We are already working on something in that regard,” he said. “It’s still being planned, but we will do something fun.”
Two Courtenay companies are challenging for the Best Innovation Award: Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery, and CORE Landscape Products.
According to a press release sent out by Small business BC, the Best Innovation Award recognizes a business that develops advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of industry in B.C., and contributes to making the province a strong and rapidly growing innovation economy, and is creating a positive impact in their industry and community.
“(CORE Landscaping) has excellent innovative and creative products where environmental impact is at the forefront of all their designs and manufacturing processes. Truly inspiring,” said a judge.
The Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery’s ability to adjust to the challenges presented by the pandemic was what caught the judges’ attention for their nomination.
“We are thoroughly impressed with how this company was able to pivot during the pandemic with the help of VR technology and other tools to make their business and local art available to a larger audience,” said one judge.
The winners will be announced over the course of a three-day virtual gala, May 4-May 6.
–With files from Small Business BC
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