Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce

Nominees for ACOC’s Business Excellence Awards revealed

 

Special to the RTT

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the nominees for its 12th annual Business Excellence Awards.

Over the last four weeks, the Chamber has been accepting nominations for the awards and was thrilled with the number of nominations they received.

“We had so many nominations come in and it was really hard to choose winners in the categories,” said ACOC board member and awards co-organizer Ray Bezaire. “Amherstburg is lucky with the choices of local businesses that we have. There is really no reason not to shop local. It was great to see our community have no trouble coming up with names of nominees.”

The nominees are:

SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

I Dare Your Hair

CJ Bondy Plumbing

Amherstburg Optometric Centre

LARGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Precision Plastics

Walker Aggregates

Diageo

EXCELLENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

PaintCO

Amherstburg License Bureau

Amherstburg Supply

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COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD

Norm Mickle – Amherstburg, You’ll Love it Here

Joe Meloche Ford

Libro Credit Union

GROWTH & EXPANSION

Wolfhead Distillery

Amherstburg Pharmacy

Dan Gemus Real Estate Team

EXCELLENCE IN FOOD SERVICE

Smashed Apple

Beacon Ale House

Gabriel’s Deli

BUSINESS LEGACY

Sutton Funeral Home

Precision Jewellers

Waterbee Pools

WELCOMING ACCESSIBILITY

Amherstburg Home Health Supplies

Jones Group

Fort Malden Dental

MOST ATTRACTIVE IMPROVEMENT

Amherstburg Laundry

Bondy House B&B

Speck’s Restaurant

The Chamber will also be honouring retired Shoppers Drug Mart associate Mary Ann Wolff with a lifetime achievement award.

“With Mary Ann retiring from Shoppers this year, the Chamber felt it was a great time to honour her with this award,” said Bezaire. “She has been a great supporter of the Chamber and our community.”

The gala event where the winners will be announced will be held at Pointe West Golf Course March 31. Nominees are encouraged to bring family, friends and their staff for a great dinner and an evening of networking and socializing with other members of the business community.

Tickets are $50 and are available at Gibb Insurance, located at 535 Sandwich St. S. (next to Tim Hortons). The phone number is 519-736-8228.

“Tickets will go fast now. Get yours before they are gone,” said Bezaire. “The venue is great but seating is limited.”

CAO John Miceli will also be making a presentation and giving updates on the exciting projects the town is working on.

“We are looking forward to hearing from John and getting more information on the Belle Vue project, the Duffy’s project among others.”

ACOC accepting nominations for the Business Excellence Awards

 

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) will once again be hosting its Business Excellence Awards and will pay tribute to business owners, staff and corporate executives as part of the evening.

The 12th annual Business Excellence Awards will taking place March 31 at Pointe West Golf Club, 200 Golfwood Dr.

A guest speaker is still being lined up but nominations are open for the awards.

Ray Bezaire, a local business owner and chamber board member, is helping to organize this year’s dinner. He said the ACOC is welcoming the community to forward ideas on who is most deserving of this year’s awards.

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“The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce is excited to host the 12th annual Business Excellence Awards,” he said. “We look forward to recognizing our hard working business owners and their staff members. We have a great group of businesses in town and it is a privilege to recognize the best of the best.”

The awards include Small Business of the Year (under 20 employees), Large Business of the Year (over 20 employees), Excellence in Customer Service, Most Attractive Improvement, Community Service/Community Involvement, Growth and Expansion, Excellence in Food Services, Investing in a World Class Workforce, the Business Legacy Award and the ACOC Directors’ Choice Awards.

“The awards evening provides an opportunity to celebrate the many Amherstburg businesses that have made a significant contribution to community spirit, service and quality of life by demonstrating outstanding business leadership, innovation and success, and it’s such a great night to mingle with your peers,” Bezaire added.

Tickets are $50 and available now at the Gibb Insurance, located at 80 Richmond St. in Amherstburg. Call 519-736-8228 or e-mail amherstburgchamber@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

Nomination forms are available at www.amherstburgchamber.com with hard copies available at Gibb Insurance and Just Cork It. People can also e-mail amherstburgchamber@gmail.com with the name of the business they are nominating and in which category.

Deadline for submissions is Feb. 13.

Town says no to taking over WE Harvest Festival

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

If the Windsor-Essex (WE) Harvest Festival returns in 2017, it won’t be run by the town of Amherstburg.

And if there is a festival in early September at Fort Malden National Historic Site, there is still a chance it could be the return of the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival.

Councillor Rick Fryer made the motion not to proceed with the Harvest Festival as a town event, though said he would support the town assisting another organizer now that the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) has decided not to organize it again.

“Right now, I’m saying we are not involved with it. We weren’t before,” said Fryer.

Fryer also referenced a letter council received from members of the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival committee wondering why they were not contacted before council received a report suggesting the town take over organizing the Harvest Festival. Fryer said he didn’t want to “push the wine festival away” and also didn’t want to burden town staff with the job of organizing another Harvest Festival.

According to Fryer, many municipalities lose money when they try to organize such events.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he was in favour of supporting organizations putting on events, but that the town shouldn’t be putting events on themselves.

“The town should not be in the event-running business,” said Lavigne.

Lavigne asked “why are the (ACOC) getting out of running the festival?” and believed the town should turn to the wine festival organizers to give them the opportunity to bring back their event for that weekend.

“The Shores of Erie Wine Festival is way better than us. I guarantee you that,” he said, regarding the ability to run festivals.

“To me the biggest red flag is when the Chamber of Commerce decided not to do (the Harvest Festival) again after one year,” added Councillor Joan Courtney. “I worry about that.”

Courtney said she agreed with the beliefs of both Fryer and Lavigne.

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Councillor Leo Meloche believed the decision to not have the town take over the Harvest Festival came too quickly.

“I’m concerned about making a quick decision,” he said. “This all came quickly to all of us. I think we should look at it.”

Meloche questioned whether there were benefits to the town that were not being taken into consideration and that, while he has concerns over cost and liability, he wanted to keep an open mind.

“I think this proposal should be looked at in more depth than writing it off so quickly,” said Meloche, adding discussions with Shores of Erie International Wine Festival committee members should be part of the process.

Paul Mersch, a board member with the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival committee, said they want a festival in town the second weekend in September and indicated it could be the wine festival.

“There is some intent of us coming back if all goes well in the court case,” he said.

Mersch said wine festival committee members were shocked when the town didn’t approach them with their report about the Harvest Festival, adding wine festival volunteers were told the Harvest Festival was a one-year event. The ACOC issued a letter in late October stating they would not run a 2017 Harvest Festival.

While there is interest in making a comeback, Mersch acknowledged “can we do it is a different question.” There were talks about a combined Harvest Festival and wine festival committee, he noted.

The letter the wine festival committee sent to council questioned why no one approached them in the one month since the ACOC said they wouldn’t present another Harvest Festival. The committee also stated it provided logistical support to the Harvest Festival and rented equipment to them “at a dramatically reduced rate.”

The wine festival committee also stated it has pumped thousands into the local economy and has donated thousands to various charities and causes.

“In reading the agenda, we saw on Oct. 28 the Chamber decided running a festival was not their mandate,” the wine festival’s letter states. “On Nov. 7, the report was filed from John Miceli CEO and Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture. Could someone not have found the time in one month to contact us out of respect for everything the Shores of Erie Wine Festival has done for our town?”

Karen Gyorgy, chair of the Shores of Erie Wine Festival committee, did state they want an event of some sort that weekend and praised the organizers of the Harvest Festival.

“Kudos to the town, Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and TWEPI (Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island),” said Gyorgy. “Volunteers put together a festival in very little time. For this they should be congratulated.”

Gyorgy said their only question was why the wine festival were not asked or approached about their intention before the report went before town council.

“We fully support festivals and tourism,” she said. “Unfortunately at this time, we were unable to make commitments.”

Lynnette Bain, vice president of tourism programs and development with TWEPI, appeared before council and said food and drink events are job creators and a growing industry. Bain spoke highly of the Harvest Festival and its “Feast On!” designation which meant they had at least 50 per cent of locally sourced product.

“WE Harvest Festival has the potential to be a tourist driver,” she said, “not a tourist enhancer.”

Bain added her belief that “town administration has the ability and skill to run the event” and that the Harvest Festival has the potential to get to the level of the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival.

According to a report from CAO John Miceli, the 2016 WE Harvest Festival drew 4,834 people. Original estimates of attendance by organizers was 8,000 people.

There were 24 vendors with eight being from Amherstburg, Miceli’s report stated, with 350 volunteers being used. He stated total vendor sales were over $146,000.

The event was highly endorsed by South West Ontario Tourism Corporation, stated Miceli, under the Ministry of Tourism, Recreation and Sport, the Ontario Culinary Alliance and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island with it also being recognized as “an important regional economic driver.”

“Through statistical data provided from the event, it was reported that businesses and vendors within the festival grounds realized substantial financial growth and brand recognition,” said Miceli.

Miceli added that other downtown establishments as well as other “contracted services” gained sales before and after the event.

“It is highly unlikely that an event such as the WE Harvest will occur in 2017 without Town involvement,” the CAO wrote. “This is understandable with the outstanding litigation of the Wine Festival and the Chamber’s recent decision not to move forward with the event in 2017. In light of this information, council’s decision is critical. This decision will play an important role in reaffirming to residents, stakeholders and investors the Town is committed to developing an alternative economy for improving quality of life for current and future residents of the Town through the promotion of tourism.”

Miceli added: “The Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM) is a measure used by the Ministry of Tourism, Recreation and Sport for economic impact. On a recorded 4,834 visitors, the economic impact in Ontario from the event realized $436,490 for total spending. This would include revenue and taxes on goods, gas, food & drink, accommodations, contracted fees etc. Locally, the TREIM measured the Direct GDP for our region as $193,783 and the Direct Labour benefit realized was $129,298. Should Council proceed with WE Harvest these dollars will continue to be realized in the locally economy at little or no cost to the ratepayer. This is a significant contribution to the local economy for a three-day event and will have a multiplier effect should the Town increase attendance the number of visitors to the event.”

ACOC president Carolyn Davies told the RTT Friday night she was hoping the town would take the event on.

“We want to keep the spot open for Amherstburg,” said Davies. “There were a lot of people competing for that time slot.”

The festival is good for economic development and tourism, she believed.

Davies said the ACOC’s mandate is to support businesses and “give them a strong foothold.” She indicated the ACOC is looking at supporting businesses in other ways, including finding ways for businesses to combat rising hydro costs.

Chris Gibb, a co-chair of the 2016 WE Harvest Festival, said it was “a great success” and wanted council to agree to take on the event.

“Harvest Fest gave local restaurants a chance to reach an audience they might not be able to reach. Our local wineries, distilleries, and craft breweries raved about the great exposure they received,” said Gibb. “Most importantly, by bringing people to Amherstburg to visit an event like Harvest Fest, it gives us a chance to show what a wonderful town we have and who knows, maybe a house is built or sold because of a visit to an event like this? Maybe people come back to visit a restaurant or shop they saw while at Harvest Fest, maybe Wolfhead Distillery increases employment because of increased sales.”

Gibb believed issues of liability could be addressed through a variety of steps.

“I was in charge of security last year and some of the procedures we implemented helped minimize the risk we took on,” said Gibb. “Not allowing anyone under 19 at the event, checking ID of both patrons and vendors, and working closely with the Amherstburg police were all ways to try and keep risks to a minimum.”

Gibb called the Harvest Festival “a true gem for Amherstburg” and said thousands of residents saw the value in it. He co-chaired the event with Aldo DiCarlo, the town’s mayor. DiCarlo was not in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.

Amherstburg holding Black Friday sales event Nov. 25

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Local shoppers are being encouraged to keep their dollars local on Black Friday.

Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) president Carolyn Davies announced that “Amherstburg is uniquely having a Black Friday Sales once more” Nov. 25.

“Think about it, before shoppers head out of town in the screaming dark early hours of the morning to cross the border, if not the night before to beat the maddening rush on what could be an expensive excursion, they can consider doing their Black Friday shopping right here in Amherstburg,” Davies stated in a press release. “Shoppers could get to sleep in, stay in the ‘Burg and save themselves a trip to the States for what they might consider Black Friday savings. Amherstburg is again wooing shoppers to save right here in town. No need to spend on gas, bridge tolls, or the increase U.S. dollar exchange. Most of what shoppers are seeking across the border they may find in the ‘Burg and more.”

Black Friday

Davies said that everything from discounts on jewelry, men’s and women’s wear, quilting materials, car maintenance deals and tires will be part of the Black Friday sales.

“If one is thinking about just taking care of themselves, wellness pampering and health products may be a treat they have been waiting for and part of the Black Friday sales,” said Davies. “Thinking of changing up at home? Home décor items and quilting materials will be worth looking into. Shoppers could get a great deal on a new car and then a treat themselves  to a great meal when all the Black Friday shopping is done in the ‘Burg.”

Davies added that shopping in Amherstburg on Black Friday “not only saves the shopper a lot of wear and tear in their pocket book but keeps our local businesses vibrant.”

River Lights to begin with “Downtown Holiday Nights” Nov. 18

 

By Ron Giofu

The River Lights Winter Festival is fast approaching with it being kicked off with “Downtown Holiday Nights” Nov. 18.

The event is a joint initiative between River Lights and the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) and is sponsored by Libro Credit Union.

River Lights administrator Sarah Van Grinsven said one of the highlights will be the “12 Days of Christmas” scavenger hunt that local businesses are participating in. That runs Nov. 18 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Participants will take their entry card to the 12 participating business and get it stamped once they find the “theme” in each location. The winner will receive prizes from local businesses valued at $600 with the victor being selected at the Nov. 19 tree lighting ceremony.

riverlightslogo

“This is big for the businesses,” said Dorothy Kryworuchko Languedoc, a director with the ACOC and owner of Pied-A-Terre Home Décor & Gifts. “It’s supporting local businesses. It’s huge.”

ACOC president Carolyn Davies said businesses are excited about the scavenger hunt, stating it will bring people into downtown businesses and have a lot of fun looking for the scavenger items in the process.

Half of the businesses were signed up right away, Davies added. Most of the spots have been filled since then.

“They are enthusiastic,” said Davies.

The ACOC president said people are not obligated to purchase anything at the businesses but said businesses can add a second incentive for the public if they see fit.

Other components of the “Downtown Holiday Nights” include ice sculpture artists, a holiday market featuring local artists and locally grown food, vignettes, a pair of horse-and-buggy operators, candlelight tours of the Park House Museum, and Father Christmas telling stories of St. Nicholas at the Commissariat with the Provincial Marine holding an encampment outside as well.

“It’s going to be a fun evening just before the tree lighting,” said Van Grinsven. “It’s a great partnership between River Lights and the Chamber to get the holiday season started for adults.”

Van Grinsven added Libro stepped forward because they wanted to help the program. Cathy Thomas, branch manager of the Amherstburg location, said Libro likes giving back to the community and enjoys “spreading prosperity” in southwestern Ontario.

“Working with River Lights and the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce is the cherry on top for the end of the season,” said Thomas. “It’s part of giving back to the community. We’re looking forward to it.”

“We’ve created a fantastic tradition,” added Van Grinsven. “It’s perfect for the holidays.”

The addition of the “Downtown Holiday Nights” to the busy River Lights agenda is also a night to see what businesses in the downtown core have to offer, Van Grinsven stated.

“It’s really adding to the atmosphere of what Amherstburg has,” she said.

“We really want to have businesses go the extra mile,” added Kryworuchko Languedoc. “It really adds to the ambiance (in downtown Amherstburg).”

The entire River Lights Winter Festival runs from Nov. 18- Dec. 30. For more information, visit www.riverlights.ca, call 519-736-4642, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/riverlightsconnection or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RiverLights.