By Jennifer Hoegg
The Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce honoured the Valley’s best and brightest Feb. 21 as the first Valley’s Best awards were handed out.
Formerly known as Best of Kings, the awards reflect public opinion through online voting. Three finalists were announced earlier this month, with the winners revealed during the organization’s annual general meeting at Acadia’s Fountain Commons.
After the 7, 500 online votes were cast, 26 awards were handed out in 25 categories, with a tie in the best bar/lounge category, between Paddy’s Pub, Kentville, and West Side Charlies, New Minas.
The evening wrapped up the first full year operating under the Annapolis Valley name. The Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce expanded last February to include the territories of the former Western Kings Board of Trade and Central Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce.
In his remarks, outgoing president Scott Roberts said the “bold move” has been positive so far, with membership going up by more than 35 and the chamber’s budget increasing by $40,000.
“The bigger we are, the more effective our voice is,” Roberts said.
Later, he added the expansion “has been quite beneficial, particularly here, where we’re looking at a new regional enterprise network moving forward. It has positioned us well for what the economic development structure might be in the future.“
Roberts said the first business awards put on by the new chamber in November, which was sold out, “shows a good deal of enthusiasm within our business community for everyone else in our business community.”
Another highlight of the year, Roberts said, was partnership with Kings County and Kentville on the opening of a chamber office and visitor information centre in the town’s former train station last June.
“I believe that was a really important step for the chamber,” said Roberts, who is also head of communications for Acadia University. “In terms of visibility for what we do, (it’s) really a benefit for our members, because we have an opportunity to speak knowledgably about business in the area.”
New chamber president Ray Savage said his priorities for the year include continued outreach to the western part of the Valley and economic development.
The chamber is looking at taking on some of the projects currently under the wings of the Kings RDA that will not be part of the new regional economic network.
“We’re looking at those and trying to ascertain what is a good fit for the chamber,” he said.
Tourism remains a priority, he added, pointing to the chamber’s investment of $10,000 in sponsoring a Valley presence at the Saltscapes trade show in Halifax this spring.
One of the biggest challenges of Roberts’ tenure as president was reaching 500 members. Savage said communication would continue to be a priority during his term.
He also plans to pursue priorities identified by members in a recent survey. The survey, conducted by Kentville’s Nova Insights, ranked co-ordination of regional economic development, twinning of the 101 to Coldbrook and development of industrial and business parks as key concerns of the membership.
See a slideshow of photos from the awards at www.kingscountynews.ca
Past-president Scott Roberts
President Ray Savage
Vice-president Sue Hayes
Second vice-president Kirk Longmire
Treasurer Loretta Kalkman
Secretary Cris Shirritt
And the winners are….
Best bar/lounge – Tie, Paddy's Pub, Kentville and West Side Charlies
Best car dealer - Summit Hyundai
Best clothing store - The Swimwear Hut
Best coffee shop - T.A.N. Coffee, Kentville
Best entertainment - Centrestage Theatre
Best family dining - Swiss Chalet
Best farm market - Wolfville Farmers’ Market
Best fast food - Johnny's Cookhouse
Best fine dining - Le Caveau
Best florist - A Beautiful Bouquet
Best fitness club/spa - Sol Yoga
Best garden centre - Blomidon Nurseries
Best gift store - Applewicks
Best grocery store - Sobeys, New Minas
Best hair salon/barber - ENVE
Best hardware store - Kings County Home Hardware, Kentville
Best home decor/furniture store - Hampton House
Best hotel/motel/B&B - The Tattingstone Inn
Best jewelry store - Reid Jewellers
Best media - AVR
Best pet store - Pet Central, Greenwood
Best pharmacy - Lawtons, Kentville
Best shoe store - Maxwell's Shoes, New Minas
Best specialty store - The Swimwear Hut
Best winery - Domaine de Grande Pré
To see a slideshow of photos from the evening, click HERE