Whatcom business leaders honored at awards banquet

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 4, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - A longtime grocery store company and a relatively new rental business were among the winners of the ninth annual business awards banquet hosted by the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Haggen Inc. won the Large Business of the Year while Bellingham Weddings and Event Rentals took home the Small Business of the Year.

The banquet was held Wednesday evening, Dec. 4, at Best Western Lakeway Inn & Conference Center.

Jim Talbot and Orphalee Smith were honored as Man of the Year and Woman of the Year. The Young Professional of the Year went to Matt DeSpain-Tonjes of SERVPRO of Bellingham.

Prior to the banquet, Interfaith Community Health Center won Non-profit of the Year and Barron Heating was named Green Business of the Year.

The businesses were selected from a group of finalists, and the competition was tough, particularly for the small-business category, said Bill Gorman, interim executive director of the chamber.

Bellingham Weddings and Event Rentals stood out because it's a "scrappy business that does a great job supporting nonprofits and the community," he said.

Haggen also stood out with its community involvement, and because it has gone through a major transformation the past year, Gorman said.

As for Talbot and Smith, Gorman said their involvement in the community was remarkable. He tried to imagine what it would have been like without them, and much like the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," he said this area would be quite different.

Talbot was president of Bellingham Cold Storage from 1957 to 1980 and a key developer of Barkley Village, while Smith has operated an accounting firm in Bellingham and been active in myriad local organizations.

Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2269.

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