Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Front Page - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­berg@prairiepos­

The fi­nal­ists in the dif­fer­ent awards cat­e­gories for the 20th an­nual Swift Cur­rent Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence (SCBEX) Spirit of Swift Cur­rent awards were an­nounced dur­ing a well-at­tended event at Great Plains Col­lege, Oct. 2.

“It's nice that all the nom­i­nees are able to bring out their friends and fam­ily and em­ploy­ees and co-work­ers to cel­e­brate their nom­i­na­tion and the fi­nal­ists that were awarded tonight,” Swift Cur­rent & Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce CEO Karla Wiens said af­ter the an­nounce­ment. “It's just a lovely night to pat each other on the back.”

The cham­ber re­ceived a record num­ber of nom­i­na­tions from the com­mu­nity. There were 110 nom­i­na­tions across eight award cat­e­gories.

“Last year we had a to­tal of 42 nom­i­na­tions come in from the com­mu­nity,” she said. “This year we al­most tripled that. It's amaz­ing, the level of en­gage­ment that Swift Cur­rent and area is show­ing their busi­ness com­mu­nity and rec­og­niz­ing out­stand­ing in­di­vid­u­als as well.”

She felt the in­crease in nom­i­na­tions was a re­sult of the cham­ber's ef­forts to ac­knowl­edge pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions through the award cat­e­gories.

“I think it also helps that we're very ac­tive on dif­fer­ent so­cial me­dia plat­forms, we're ad­ver­tis­ing and this is the sec­ond year we've done this mixer early,” she said.

This event used to be on the night be­fore the SCBEX awards gala, but it is now held a few weeks ear­lier to an­nounce the fi­nal­ists, which cre­ates some ad­di­tional ex­cite­ment for the awards and more aware­ness about nom­i­nees.

“I'm 100 per cent pos­i­tive there are busi­nesses listed there that a lot of peo­ple did not even know were in ex­is­tence,” she said.

“So it's re­ally nice to shine some light on some busi­nesses and hope­fully it gen­er­ates some ac­tion for them.”

The cit­i­zen of the year cat­e­gory was cre­ated last year and there were six nom­i­nees this time. All the other award cat­e­gories had even more nom­i­nees, and in the case of the small busi­ness cat­e­gory there were 22 nom­i­nees. This year there is also a new nom­i­na­tion cat­e­gory of home based busi­ness, for which there were seven nom­i­nees.

“For our 20th an­niver­sary we wanted to im­ple­ment a new award cat­e­gory and there was a lot of ideas thrown out there,” she said.

“The board got to­gether and de­cided there are an aw­ful lot of mo­bile peo­ple – maybe they're not home based, but they don't have a store­front. That's how I would de­fine a home based busi­ness, and it is a unique niche sec­tor of our econ­omy. So we wanted to rec­og­nize that sec­tor that might some­times be for­got­ten about, but it is just as im­por­tant to driv­ing our econ­omy.”

There are only three fi­nal­ist in each award cat­e­gory, but Wiens is con­vinced the nom­i­nated busi­nesses will ben­e­fit from re­ceiv­ing that nom­i­na­tion in an awards cat­e­gory.

“We try to spread the word and we want to share it with the gen­eral pub­lic,” she said. “The more times your name is out there in the pub­lic, the more peo­ple will think of you and re­mem­ber see­ing that you were nom­i­nated for this busi­ness ex­cel­lence award. Clearly they're do­ing some­thing right and some­thing good, and some­one has rec­og­nized that. So I think it can't be any­thing but ben­e­fi­cial to a busi­ness to be ap­plauded in this sort of a fash­ion.”

The busi­ness cham­ber fol­lowed the same se­lec­tion process than last year to de­ter­mine the fi­nal­ists and even­tual win­ner in each cat­e­gory. Nom­i­na­tions were sub­mit­ted by the pub­lic, start­ing in July. In early Septem­ber the list of nom­i­nees was compiled from these sub­mis­sions.

A se­lec­tion com­mit­tee that con­sisted of last year's SCBEX win­ners picked the fi­nal­ists in each cat­e­gory. They did not meet, but made their de­ci­sion in­di­vid­u­ally with­out dis­cus­sion with other mem­bers of the com­mit­tee.

The fi­nal de­ci­sion on the win­ner in each cat­e­gory was made through a se­cret bal­lot at the Septem­ber meet­ing of the cham­ber's board of direc­tors.

“Those en­velopes were sealed and we will an­nounce the win­ners at the SCBEX awards gala on Oct. 26,” she said. “So the board is not go­ing to know un­til then ei­ther.”

It will be the 20th an­niver­sary of the SCBEX awards and this mile­stone will be cel­e­brated dur­ing the awards gala.

“We're go­ing to switch it up and just add some things that will high­light the night,” she said. “Ev­ery time you're cel­e­brat­ing an an­niver­sary, it's good to throw some dif­fer­ent twist in there.”

The SCBEX Spirit of Swift Cur­rent busi­ness ex­cel­lence awards gala will take place at the Liv­ing Sky Casino event cen­tre on Oct. 26, and tick­ets are now avail­able. Call 306-773-7268 or send an e-mail to as­sis­tant@swiftcur­rentcham­ Be­low are the three fi­nal­ists in each award cat­e­gory:

Start-up/New Busi­ness of the Year award fi­nal­ists – Dish­ful Gourmet, Khadra's Ta­ble, Olea Oil & Vine­gar Tast­ing Room.

Home Based Busi­ness award fi­nal­ists – Elli-Belle Pho­tog­ra­phy, Imag­ine Im­mi­gra­tion & Con­sult­ing, JAG Land­scap­ing & Yard Main­te­nance.

Small Busi­ness of the Year award fi­nal­ists – Fu­sion Hair + Body + Shop, Sput­ter­gotch Toy Com­pany, The Land­ing Stu­dio.

Medium Busi­ness of the Year award fi­nal­ists – Great West Auto Elec­tric/Bumper to Bumper, RE/MAX of Swift Cur­rent, Voth's Brand­source.

Large Busi­ness of the Year award fi­nal­ists – Ag Growth In­ter­na­tional, Buf­falo Brew Pub, Stark & Marsh.

Not-for-profit Busi­ness of the Year award fi­nal­ists – Cana­dian Men­tal Health, SaskA­bil­i­ties, Swift Cur­rent Ag & Ex.

Em­ployer of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties award fi­nal­ists – Giant Tiger, Phar­masave/Star­bucks, Ser­viceMaster Clean.

Cit­i­zen of the Year award fi­nal­ists – Shann Gowan, Larry John­son, Dr. Tara Lee.

Two other awards will be pre­sented at the awards gala. These re­cip­i­ents are se­lected by the Cham­ber of Com­merce board of direc­tors. Liv­ing Sky Casino will re­ceive the Mem­ber Busi­ness of the Year award and MNP LLP will be in­ducted into the Busi­ness Hall of Fame.

Pho­tos by Matthew Lieben­berg

Great Plains Col­lege and In­no­va­tion Credit Union spon­sored the mixer where the SCBEX awards fi­nal­ists were an­nounced, Oct. 2. Pic­tured, Great Plains Col­lege Pres­i­dent and CEO Dr. David Keast speaks to the au­di­ence and stand­ing be­hind is Swift Cur­rent & Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce CEO Karla Wiens.

A large num­ber of peo­ple at­tended the mixer where the SCBEX awards fi­nal­ists were an­nounced, Oct. 2.

There was a good turnout at the event at Great Plains Col­lege for the an­nounce­ment of the SCBEX award fi­nal­ists, Oct. 2.

Pho­tos by Matthew Lieben­berg

Great Plains Col­lege and In­no­va­tion Credit Union spon­sored the mixer where the SCBEX awards fi­nal­ists were an­nounced, Oct. 2. Pic­tured, In­no­va­tion Credit Union VP Busi­ness So­lu­tions Mark Cle­ments speaks to the au­di­ence.

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