By Liz Leighton

As we approach the final months of 2017, our Annual Awards Banquet on November 30th will honor Large Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Green Business of the Year, and Non-Profit of the Year, among others.

While the Bellingham Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BWCCI) facilitates these awards, they do not participate in the selection or judging of the nominees. Here’s how the process works:

Each year during July and August, the community at large is invited to nominate those businesses they would like to see awarded as the best. The only caveat is that the nominated businesses must be members of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce. These nominations are accepted via e-mail, or they can be dropped off at the Chamber’s 119 N. Commercial St, Suite 110 address through August 31st.

In September, Chamber Events Coordinator Silvia Reed, meets with 12 committee members who are selected from the Chamber membership based on the extent of their involvement with the Chamber, and Community Events. After verifying that all nominees are indeed Chamber members, committee members are provided with bios of the nominated businesses detailing years in business, products/services they provide, and any other public information are given to the committee.  Committee members may volunteer additional information on the nominees to build on the criteria, including what they know about what makes that company successful, the opportunities it provides for employment and growth, and their involvement in the community.

They then evaluate each nominated company in the large and small business categories in a “blind scoring” system, and the top four finalists are selected.

Chamber President and CEO Guy Occhiogrosso contacts the finalists to make sure they will accept the nominations. Once they accept, Silvia contacts them to explain the next step: The Interview. She explains the criteria of the evaluations to the nominees, and sets appointments for them to meet with 3-4 committee members at the nominee’s place of business to talk about their involvement in the community, opportunities for growth, and other preselected questions. All nominees are asked the same questions so they can be fairly evaluated.

Once all nominees have been interviewed, the Committee members meet with Silvia, and in another blind scoring system, they each make their selections.

The Chamber will announce the finalists in early October, and the winners will be announced at the November 30th banquet.

Green Companies are evaluated on their “green” efforts; and Non-Profits on the opportunities they provide their clients, and how they obtain and use their funding resources to benefit the community. Again, the Chamber does not influence the selection process. They merely facilitate the process.

Businesses supporting one another is what the Chamber is all about!

Join us for the 13th Annual Awards Dinner on November 30th when the Small and Large Businesses of the Year will be announced along with Green, Nonprofit, Tourism, Man, Woman, CEO, Chamber Ambassador and Young Professional of the Year will be awarded.