SHERBROOKE – Enterprising entrepreneurs in St. Mary’s were recognized for their excellence and service to the community at the inaugural Small Business Awards in Sherbrooke last week.
Stillwater Family Farm received the award for Best New Business, while the prize for Best Long-Standing Business went to Sherbrooke Garage Ltd. Kaiser Marine Inc. of Port Bickerton received the award for Best Community Impact, while Beanie’s Bistro of Sherbrooke received the nod for Best Customer Service.
“We have been fortunate to have received regional and provincial awards from both the restaurant and tourism sectors in the past,” Max MacDonald, co-owner and proprietor of Beanie’s, said in an interview following the ceremony at the Sherbrooke Lions Club on Oct. 19.
“However, when we opened nine years ago, we really wanted to become a gathering spot for the community. This is why we were so happy to receive the inaugural Best Customer Service Award from the municipality. It was very touching to be recognized by our own community in this way.”
The awards were the main event of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s annual Small Business Appreciation Night, hosted by local council and staff. Residents of the community were asked to nominate their favourite businesses for the four categories.
“The focus is on the continued growth and development of business enterprises and economy,” said Marissa Jordan, the municipality’s economic development officer, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to a flourishing future for St. Mary’s and are incredibly excited about the next few years, with a number of strong growth opportunities in the works.”
The municipality is renovating its 15-year-old municipal planning strategy and land-use bylaw to better reflect community priorities and opportunities. One of those, Jordan recently told The Journal, is the possibility of a new chamber of commerce or board of trade for the area, although that exercise would depend on the sustained interest of the business community in a rapidly changing and increasingly challenging economic and social environment.
“The pandemic has increased the amount of online shopping that people are doing,” MacDonald said. “These awards are timely in that they remind people there are local business alternatives also serving the community.”
Said Jordan: “The municipality thanks everyone who made this event possible, including council, staff, businesses, the Sherbrooke Lions and a special thank you to Cornect Farm and the Soap Company of Nova Scotia for their donations. A special thank you also goes out to the students of SMECA (St. Mary’s Education Centre and Academy) that drew so many wonderful pictures that were displayed at the event.”
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal