Nominations open for small business awards

Small businesses are the backbone of any economy. The Small Business Administration reports that small businesses generate 60-80 percent of new jobs annually and pay more than 44 percent of the total United States private payroll.

Local chambers of commerce in the Tri-Cities are helping to make sure that area entrepreneurs feel support in taking the initiative to begin and grow their business and celebrating their success with our 20th Annual Mid-Columbia Small Business of the Year Awards. Likewise, the chambers work hard to attract new outside business to the area. One way of showing support is with the annual Mid-Columbia Small Business Awards, presented each spring. Now in its 20th year, the Mid-Columbia Small Business Award banquet and ceremony draws business, industrial, government and other leaders to salute outstanding small businesses in the area.

We have a huge range of small businesses that have won a Mid-Columbia Small Business Award over the years — from machine shops to restaurants to quilt shops. For this year’s event, we are inviting all past winners back to showcase their awards and successes.

The awards recognize small businesses in Benton and Franklin counties for their exceptional customer service, outstanding commitment to employees and superior community relations. Nominations are accepted from employees, customers, suppliers or regulators of the nominated businesses. Businesses are encouraged to self-nominate, too.

Each year, 18 to 20 businesses are nominated in three categories. The winning businesses receive a wood-based metal sculpture created by local artisan Ted Neth, as well as a full-page exposé showcasing their small business in two local newspapers. These awards are highly coveted by business owners for what the award represents and for the beauty of the art piece.

New for 2015 is that the application has been streamlined to assist small businesses and their nominators to maximize their time constraints, without sacrificing the quality of the awards, while honing in on the key aspects of the business. Randy Way, owner of Sylvan Learning and former award winner, is offering two training sessions for those interested in the process.

Colin Hastings, CEO of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce, is the lead organization of this year’s event. Hastings says, “It’s important for us to hear the ongoing success stories of small businesses, because they are the backbone of our economy.”

Bank Reale is the presenting sponsor with other key sponsors including Gesa and Basin Disposal.

Twenty years ago, A.M. Sastry, “Sas,” former CEO of MACTEC, a Hanford subcontractor, had a vision to celebrate and honor small businesses in the Mid-Columbia region. Today, his legacy lives on as we celebrate the 20th annual Mid-Columbia Small Business Awards. Sas was the founding father of the event, and has agreed to return to the Tri-Cities as keynote speaker.

“This community fully supports small businesses, and continues to grow because of the innovation and hard work of our local entrepreneurs,” Hastings said. “We need to continue cultivating a supportive environment that encourages small businesses. The Mid-Columbia Small Business Awards event is one important way we do that.”

The awards will be presented May 12 at the Three Rivers Convention Center. The nomination deadline is April 3. Forms may be obtained from the local Chambers of Commerce, or online at www.midcolumbiasmallbiz.com. For more information, contact Sheri Nolan at 585-5460 or the Pasco Chamber of Commerce at 547- 9755.