The Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce announced nominees last month across nine different award categories that will be handed out at a late September Business Excellence Awards show.
This year the Chamber added two new categories in Arts and Culture and Customer Experience, which Chamber of Commerce Sales and Events Manager Emily Bennett says were included in an effort to recognize a wider field of businesses for their perseverance over the last couple years of uncertainty.
“Both the awards we just created them to allow more businesses and individuals within the community to be celebrated,” Bennett said.
“I think definitely over the past few years businesses have suffered so I think this is a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work and success of all businesses we can.”
The awards also have categories for business person of the year, employer of the year, new business of the year, hospitality and tourism, skilled trades, social impact, and young entrepreneurs.
Rathi Perumal of Uyir Engineering was nominated in the Young Entrepreneur category and says the Chamber reached out to her noting that her success over the last couple years could be an inspiration for other immigrants with business ambitions in the area.
Perumal said it feels unreal to be recognized, and that she’s been taken aback by the amount of support she’s gotten in Kingston since starting her firm in January 2021.
“It’s actually been surprisingly welcoming the community in Kingston here,” Perumal said.
“It’s actually been great for me.”
This year marks the 26th round of nominees for Business Excellence Awards, and the Chamber made an effort to showcase the diversity amongst businesses in the Kingston area as well as among the people who run them.
The new Arts and Culture category includes nominees like Skeleton Park Arts Festival and The Katarokwi Indigenous Art and Food Market.
Georgina Riel, CEO and owner of the RIEL Cultural Consulting and the Market, says it was a pleasant surprise to be nominated even if it wasn’t really on her radar.
She said while awards are far from her primary concern, having recognition for Indigenous people in mainstream spaces and not just within Indigenous circles carries some importance.
“We’re there to be in every space,” Riel said.
“This is where we need to see ourselves… When one person open up spaces then many other people get introduced.”
Awards will be handed out at a banquet held at the Isabel Bader Center on September 22, tickets can be purchased through the theatre’s box office.