The Chamber of Commerce’s biggest event of the year is called the Small Business Awards, but it is a celebration of the Loudoun County community.
That was evident as more than 400 people gathered at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne on Friday night for the 22nd annual awards ceremony. Over the past two months, more than 260 nominations were whittled down to just eight winners. Throughout the evening, honorees shared stories of overcoming personal challenges and serious illnesses, and highlighted their efforts to help improve the lives of area residents.
The night’s top prize went to The Wellness Connection, which was named the Small Business of the Year after also winning the Service Business of the Year award. In 2002, founder Susan McCormick lost her husband in a car crash. Therapy got her through that tragedy and today she is a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as a wellness coach. Her company provides a multi-disciplinary partnership to help clients optimize their health and wellness. She also has taken a leadership role in burgeoning community discussion about mental illness. “I am talking about it from the rooftops,” she said.
Other finalists for the Service Business award were People Tactics, B3 Group, Select Construction and Champagne Services.
The Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Allen Kabiri, president and director of Select Construction in Ashburn. Finalists were Rusty Foster of Bow Tie Strategies, Kamal Gill of The Zone, and George Crawley of Champagne Cleaning Services
The winner of the People’s Choice award was Mobile Hope, which provides supplies and resources to homeless and precariously housed youth. There were more than 6,000 online votes cast in that category this year.
The Retail Business of the Year award went to Best Rack Around. Nanette Parsons founded the specialty bra boutique in Leesburg three years ago. This month, the business will move into new retail condo space at Crescent Place. Parsons joked that if the bra shop didn’t work out, she knew there was an option to convert the business into a rib joint. In addition to helping women find the bras with the proper fit, Parsons has several programs that support breast cancer patients.
A week ago, Parson found out that her skin cancer has returned. But that doesn’t matter, she told the audience. “What matters is that we are all here today as a community.”
Other finalists in the Retail Business category were Plum Grove Cyclery, Crown Trophy, and Craftystitches.
Loudoun Youth was named Nonprofit of the Year. In its 11th year, the organization runs a year-round schedule of youth leadership programs. Current President and CEO Jared Melvin was joined by founder Carol Kost in accepting the award.
Jennifer Andos and Paperfish Creative marketing and website firm won the Home-based Business Award. Other finalists were Access Point Public Affairs, LoudounClear Marketing, and BowTie Strategies.
Total Equine won the award for Tourism and Rural Business of the Year. Veterinarian Jay Joyce, a U.S. Naval Academy grad said he had a job any boy would want, including driving a big truck and working outside all day. Other finalists were the Leesburg Animal Park, North Gate Vineyards and the Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek.
The Evergreen Sportsplex was named the Innovative Business of the Year. The 44-acre complex south of Leesburg includes four artificial turf fields and runs a full slate of youth sports clubs and camps. In accepting the award, Marketing Director Carolyn Dobson and Managing Director Chris Bourassa said the staff is not just focused on sports, but also on instilling leadership values in the athletes they train. Other finalists were Comfenergy (co-owned by Dobson’s husband Justin, marking the first time two family members have competed for the same prize during the awards), Cucinamore, StageCoach Theater Company, Mover Junction and Cycle Luv.