Part of what the Chamber of Commerce does is host events. On Tuesday past, we co-hosted the candidates debate for the riding of Antigonish. It was a very well-attended and, I thought, informative night that gave the candidates from the three parties an opportunity to educate the voters, so the decision they make is an informed one.

The following morning, we hosted a Breakfast Connection, where speaker Rick Ramsay talked of municipal relations. Our membership told us that this topic was of great importance to them, and so we searched out someone to add to the discussion. That there were over a dozen representatives from the Town and the County tells me that this is a topic that is of importance to them as well, something that pleases me to no end.

Now, the Chamber doesn’t put these events on for the sake of a get-together. We do it because of the value we feel it can bring to not only our members, but members and non-members alike. (At this point, I would normally do the silly “if you are a member, if you aren’t a member” thing, but even I’m getting sick of that. The fact is, non-members are really potential members. We want you to be a member. Let’s move on*.)

*The author reserves the right to return to this ridiculous literary device at any time.

The value of the two above events is information. We help to coordinate a debate so that the people can have the best possible information to choose the person who will represent them and strive to create a better Antigonish. We partner further with ACALA so we can have the debate taped and available to those unable to attend. We bring in individuals to speak at Breakfast and Lunch Connections to provide insight into issues facing our members and give them the information they need to find solutions and opportunities.

Our next major event is our Business Gala, which is held every year on Small Business Week and this year will be held on Thursday, October 24th. And while the other events listed were about information, the Business Gala is about celebration. It is about celebrating the folks that are doing it right.

The Outstanding Customer Service Award is about celebrating that person that exemplifies what a “customer service experience” is all about. The Young Entrepreneur Award highlights an individual under the age of thirty who has the drive to turn his or her visions into reality, and the Emerging Business Award celebrates a business that has established itself as a viable and vital piece of the Antigonish business community. They are the awards not only of the now, but of the future. And, the Ian Spencer Award for Excellence in Business celebrates the company that is combining success in business with success in community.

Though the Chamber is hosting this event, this is not an event about the Chamber of Commerce. You do not have to be a member to nominate a person or business. You do not have to be a member of the Chamber to be nominated. If someone deserves to be recognized, we would have them recognized.

You also do not need to be a member to attend. Because, while on this night we are celebrating the winners of these awards and those who were nominated, we are also celebrating something more. We are celebrating Antigonish. By celebrating these award recipients and nominees, we are shining a spotlight on those we feel represent Antigonish best. This is who we are, this is who we want to be.

Nominations for the awards close on October 4th. The Gala itself, as mentioned, is twenty days later on the 24th. The winners are chosen based on a strict criteria and extensive investigation. You are encouraged to put forth the names of the worthy. You are encouraged to celebrate their successes, for they are yours as well. Please join us at our annual Business Gala. Information on nominations and tickets can be found at our website, or by calling 863-6308.

I hope to see you there.

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the Casket was unable to publish this article this week. An edited version noting the passage of the October 4th deadline is scheduled to appear next week.

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