The Leesburg Business Appreciation Awards last night paid homage to the town’s best and brightest new, and long-running, businesses as well as its leading corporate citizens.
A total of 10 awards were presented during the annual awards ceremony at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center. The night’s top honor went to Mobile Hope founder Donna Fortier, who took home the George C. Marshall Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the community beyond business contributions. Mobile Hope began as an extension of Inova Health Services, but Fortier took it to the next level, creating a nonprofit organization that serves Loudoun’s homeless or at-risk youth. Bowtie Strategies owner Rusty Foster took home honorable mention honors. Foster created the Bowtie Scholarship Fund, and is active in many community groups, including serving as chairman of the board of the YMCA Loudoun County.
Popular downtown donut purveyor B Doughnut, which opened its Loudoun Street location in December, was honored with the Rising Star Award. The only award winner to be exclusively picked by members of the Economic Development Commission, B Doughnut’s relative, and quick, ease with attracting a loyal following was noted.
It was a good evening for the arts community. Friends of Leesburg Public Arts picked up the Ambassador Award, given to a business or organization that promotes a positive image of Leesburg as a business location or tourist destination. FOLPA’s efforts in landing a LOVEworks sculpture in town, set to be officially dedicated this weekend, was cited as one of its many contributions. County tourism body Visit Loudoun won honorable mention in the category for its Market Station-based visitors center.
The Public Art Award went to Loudoun Lyric Opera director Pamela Butler. A Leesburg resident, Butler started the opera company in 2007 and it has produced 28 shows in Loudoun County since then. Tryst Gallery owner Jim Sisley was the honorable mention winner.
It was his second award of the night, as Sisley’s Tryst Gallery was the winner in the Innovations Award category. The award is given to a business that has brought recognition to Leesburg through innovative business ventures, unique product development or other cutting-edge business practices. The gallery is located in a co-working space, also owned and run by Sisley. Cucinamore, LLC, won honorable mention.
For Cucinamore, LLC, a cooking service that brings the Italian dining experience to your home, it was also the second award of the night. The business also won honorable mention in the Home-Based Business Award category. The winner of that category, Blue Lion Multimedia, was credited with helping area nonprofits and community initiatives with video productions.
Veterans Transition Forum, a Mason Enterprise Center client, took home the Veterans Affairs Award for its work in transitioning soldiers back to civilian life.
Trinity House Cafe and owner Ever Johnson were presented with the Heritage Award, which is given to a business or organization that has made a long-term commitment to preserving the integrity and character of the historic downtown. The café is located in the George Head House. Mike McLister, of McLister Enterprises, LLC, took home honorable mention. McLister for his renovation of the former Eiffel Tower restaurant into a residential/office complex.
Leesburg Station Auto Wash was lauded for its efficiency in water usage in winning the Environmental Award. Plum Grove ReCyclery won honorable mention. The bike shop often uses recycled bike parts in its products.
Finally, Every Citizen Has Opportunities (ECHO) was awarded the Community Steward Award. The Lawson Road-based nonprofit provides work opportunities for individuals with disabilities. AH&T Insurance won honorable mention for its many community efforts.
Thirteen businesses were also recognized as legacy businesses for celebrating 25 years in town.
The evening ended with a surprise announcement. Sisley, the Economic Development Commission chairman, informed the audience that Wednesday evening’s business awards ceremony would be the last for Economic Development Manager Marantha Edwards, at least in her current role. Edwards will be retiring in January after 18 years with the Town of Leesburg.