Kelowna is gifted. I’d always heard that this city has one of the highest levels of entrepreneurship in Canada. This fact was confirmed last week with the announcement of the Top 10 semi-finalists in each category for the Small Business BC Awards. Eight of the Top 10 semi-finalists are Central Okanagan-based businesses.
Hey, this is a tourism column – am I right? Are you wondering why today’s topic celebrates small business rather than telling you about Kelowna’s latest tourism news? In fact, a healthy small business climate feeds into the vibrancy of a destination. Think about your favourite vacation attractions to visit – chances are, they are small businesses. That amazing bakery with the gigantic cinnamon buns that you just have to stop at on your road trip? A small business. The quirky antique store with fun finds? A small business. A place with many small businesses is by extension filled with creativity, innovation, vibrancy. That’s why Kelowna’s strong presence in the Small Business BC Awards is a big deal.
From October 1 to November 30, British Columbians nominated and voted for their favourite small businesses. This year was the biggest year yet with over 460 nominations received from upwards of 70 communities across the province, including 25 nominations from Kelowna. Now that the semi-finalists have been named, a panel of judges will review the applications and narrow down the competition to 5 finalists in each category, to be announced on January 30. From there, finalists will prepare a Dragons’ Den-style pitch for the judges on why they should be named the best in BC. The winners will be honored and celebrated on February 26, 2015 at the Small Business BC Awards Ceremony in Vancouver.
Let’s have a look at the 8 local semi-finalists – congratulations to all.
CoreHealth Technologies is passionate about providing support to companies to improve their workplace health and wellness through their innovative software to revolutionize health and performance in the workplace for over 10 years.
Culinary Ink GastroVentures is changing the world, one lunch at a time. Starting with the concept of socially-conscious comfort food, this Kelowna business serves delicious comfort food from bicycle-towed carts, using biodegradable materials and packaging. The proceeds help organizations raise desperately needed funds and create jobs for disenfranchised individuals, who gain basic culinary skills and certifications that can help transition into meaningful careers.
Float Space is a modern sanctuary for physical and mental wellbeing in Kelowna, ideal for personal development, and a hub for creativity and performance enhancement. Floatation centres have an incredible impact on customers simply by providing space to rest, relax, and reset your senses from the busy stimulation of the outside world.
Gray Monk Estate Winery has made the Top 10 list in the category of Best Employer. This winery was among the province’s first, and has built up a reputation for incredible and award-winning wines, dining, views, and a culture of hospitality. Owned and operated by the Heiss family, the business has been operating since 1972. It is a must-visit winery along Lake Country’s Scenic Sip wine trail.
Nourish is a relatively new restaurant in Kelowna that creates a fresh menu daily. The menu only has a few selections, incorporating one salad, 2 sandwiches, 2 hot dishes, and 2 soups from which customers can select. All daily dishes are made with organic and quality ingredients.
porsche-ella is a Kelowna-based online beauty company that aims to instigate a feeling of true beauty and to unveil the beauty in each person through Canadian and environmentally sustainable makeup, skincare, beauty products and education. All products are Canadian-sourced from boutique and artisan producers, are ensured to be non-carcinogenic and are designed to promote healthy skin. The company also offers 2 beauty-guidance programs that address concepts of inner beauty in both your personal life and professional life.
Soil Mate is a Kelowna-based company that starts with the intention of fostering the connection between consumers and their local farmers, raisers and producers. With its user-friendly online platform, Soil Mate provides information on which farms are in the immediate vicinity and information about what they grow, growing season, and how it is grown (it has listings for all US States and Canadian Provinces). Believing that it is important to educate both adults and children about where their food and drink comes from and how it is produced, this innovative and socially-conscious business communicates a simple message: know your farmer, know your food.
The Greenery Garden Centre Many Kelowna green thumbs know The Greenery very well, making it one of their first stops as soon as spring arrives. But the 32-year-old Kelowna company has made the Top 10 list in the category of Best Online Marketer for its multi-channeled and savvy use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter channels, a (globally) popular YouTube channel, influential email newsletters, and even a humour-filled direct mail campaign, all of which has boosted web traffic to their site.
Congratulations to these Top 10 semi-finalists, and also to the many other fantastic local companies who put forward entries into the competition including the Heart School Kelowna, Kekuli Café in West Kelowna, Mavazi Apparel, and The Habitat, among several others. We are very proud of all our local small businesses who contribute so much to the creativity and appeal of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan. Why this is such a hotbed for small businesses is a topic for another day, but certainly the natural beauty, recreational amenities, and quality of life, combined with a diversified economy, strong infrastructure, and a welcome business community, make Kelowna a popular location to live and play.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.