Credit: Kaili’i Smith @liiphoto_

Leigh Joseph is founder of Squamish-based Sḵwálwen Botanicals, a finalist for the Best Community Impact and Premier’s People’s Choice awards

After drawing a record number of nominations, the annual contest has named its top five finalists in six categories

From Richmond to Terrace to Canoe, local small businesses have soldiered on in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Small Business BC Awards just celebrated those efforts by announcing the top five finalists in six categories.

Despite COVID challenges, the competition received a record 937 nominations representing 558 small businesses in 88 communities. (Some entrants were nominated in several categories.) Nominees had until March 8 to gather as many votes as they could from the public. Small Business BC then tallied the votes to arrive at the top 20 in each category, using a normalization process to account for regional population differences.

An internal panel of business experts chose the finalists, some of which are contenders in several categories.

“I think it’s clear, from the overwhelming number of nominations and the more than 50,000 public votes, that the spirit of support for small business runs strong in our province,” said Tom Conway, president and CEO of Small Business BC. “This has been the most difficult year for small business owners, and now their communities are standing behind them, recognizing what they’ve been through and celebrating their success.”

Next, the finalists must pitch their business to an independent panel of entrepreneurs and professionals. Small Business BC will announce the winners during a three-day virtual gala taking place May 4-6. The prize for each winner: $1,500; a video of their business, shot by a professional film crew; and an all-access pass to Small Business BC’s services.

Although the judges have a big say in the results, the public selects the winner of the Premier’s People’s Choice Award, which is sponsored by the Province of B.C.

To register for the Small Business BC Awards gala, click here.

Here’s the full list of finalists.

Best Youth Entrepreneur Award

Purpose Smoothie Co., Richmond

Sea to Sky Sourdough BReD, Whistler

Justo’s Craft Dips, Victoria

MisMacK Clean Cosmetics, Canoe

Bigfoot Donuts, Courtenay

Best Community Impact Award

Bubbles Blossom Designs, Clinton

Sisters Sage, New Westminster

MisMacK Clean Cosmetics

Sḵwálwen Botanicals, Squamish

Bigfoot Donuts

Best Solopreneur Award

Jak. Natural Designs, Blue River

Chiwis Kiwi Chips, Squamish

Aspect Film Works, Kamloops

Jada Creations, Terrace

Emerald Earth Organic Spa, Valemount

Best Innovation Award

Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery, Courtenay

CORE Landscape Products, Courtenay

Big Bold Brand, North Vancouver

Matidor, Vancouver

MisMacK Clean Cosmetics

Best Immigrant Entrepreneur Award

Soul Bite Food, Coquitlam

Audielicious Restaurant, Fort St. John

Charcuterie Vancouver, Vancouver

Artemex Mexican Handcrafts, West Kelowna

Kleiner Services, Burnaby

Premier’s People’s Choice Award

Bigfoot Donuts

Raven Reads Books, Logan Lake

Summit Tiny Homes, Vernon

Sḵwálwen Botanicals

Justo’s Craft Dips