By Kara Clark Rodriguez
For the first time in the history of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s esteemed Small Business Awards, it was a nonprofit that took home the top prize.
Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness was the winner of the Small Business of the Year Award at the Nov. 6. ceremony at the National Conference Center.
Boulder Crest Retreat is the nation’s first privately-funded rural wellness center dedicated to supporting combat veterans and their families. Since its opening in 2013, more than 1,000 have benefited from the center’s therapeutic and recreational programs.
Earlier in the evening Boulder Crest also was the winner in the Nonprofit category, making it eligible for the top prize. All category winners from the evening, in addition to other award category winners from the previous three years who apply for consideration, are eligible for consideration as Small Business of the Year.
Executive Director Ken Falke was also a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year category.
Chamber President Tony Howard noted that since the Nonprofit of the Year category was added in 2009, none of the winning nonprofits have taken home the Small Business of the Year award until last week.
The business awards have been held since 1995. Howard noted that the judges selecting the category winners as well as both the Entrepreneur of the Year and Small Business of the Year make their decisions based solely on the surveys submitted by the award applicants. There are no deliberations among judges, he said, so committee members are not aware of how each other voted. The judges’ votes are then scored and the results compiled to render award winners.
For Boulder Crest, both awards are the result of the tireless work of its staff and volunteers.
“First of all, we’re honored to have received the award. To sit there with the other finalists and ultimately come out on top was great,” Falke said. “We also felt honored to know we had the community’s support, and that’s so important. We know the national level of sponsors and donors is so important, but the true success will be the community embracing us for the long it.”
Volunteerism is an important part of the retreat’s success. “Every hour that’s donated is an hour we don’t have to pay someone,” Falke noted, adding that volunteers act as community ambassadors for the organization.
For example, last week’s Loudoun 10K Trail Run, which raises money for the retreat, resulted in a contact with a family foundation now making plans for a $5,000 contribution.
Boulder Crest is in the process of raising its second $10 million block of capital, with $2 million raised since January.
To learn more, go to bouldercrestretreat.org.
Other award winners last week were:
- Entrepreneur of the Year: Justin Dobson, Comfenergy
- Home-Based Business: DeHenzel Training Systems
- Technology Business: Solebrity Inc.
- Tourism & Entertainment Business: The Zone
- Rural Business: Spring House Farm
- Service Business: Commonwealth Vault & Safe Deposit Co.
- Retailer: Brew LoCo LLC
Contact Kara Clark Rodriguez at email@example.com.