Each year the Thurston County Economic Development Council (EDC) recognizes the county business and nonprofit community through its Annual Meeting & Business Recognition Awards.
There are four categories for awards: nonprofit, new business, small business, and corporate employer.
Each award winner receives recognition through press releases, a plaque commemorating their award, and a video of each award winner that is available on the EDC website.
This year’s nonprofit award went to Big Brothers Big Sisters of SW Washington, an organization that has enabled children to “realize their potential and help build their futures” through the organization’s volunteer mentoring program.
They provide one-on-one mentoring for children ages 5 to 18 facing adversity.
“So many children come from single-parent families and they need a male or female role model in their life,” said Roger Jones, executive director.
Jill Kawulok, director of programs, said they aim to provide impact in three different focuses: developing self-confidence, avoidance of risky behaviors, and educational success.
“There’s lots of things all over the world you can be a part of, but Big Brothers Big Sisters is working right here locally with kids next door,” said Leslie Strong, development director.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of SW Washington serves five counties including Thurston County. The organization helped 525 children in 2012
Jones said the organization “has a tremendous need for volunteers.”
“It makes a big impact to both the kids and the volunteers, as each help and watch each other grow,” he said.
The other nonprofit finalists were the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County and the Family Support Center of South Sound.
Taking home the New Business Award was Providence Health & Services –– Washington DBA Distribution Operations Center (DOC).
Established in 2009, Providence Distribution and Operations Center transports and dispenses supplies and services throughout the Providence Health Care System in the Pacific Northwest.
As a way to reduce rising health costs, Providence hospital purchased the DOC so that they can order in low units of inventory, said Senior Director of Supply Chain Management Keith Howells.
“Currently, many hospitals are buying direct from a distributor who has a catalogue selling only large quantities of inventory. However, we are buying directly from the manufacturer, housing the inventory in large volumes, and then shipping inventory in the necessary amounts to hospitals all over the region,” Howells said.
In the future, the DOC plans to expand and become a one-stop-shop, manufacturing and distributing inventory to hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, he said.
Limeberry Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt and Vision Uniquely Experienced were the other two finalists in this award category.
The award for small business of the year went to the Willams Group Marketing + Design, a branding, web design, and video production business established in 1993.p provides expert guidance in almost every realm of marketing with an aim to help businesses and organizations achieve a greater marketing presence.
“One of our greatest innovations is what we call ‘performance-based search engine optimization tool,’ which is where we create and design a website for a client and charge on a performance basis; we don’t get paid until someone visits their site,” he said.
“We think it’s important to support the local community, so, each quarter, we do one significant project as a donation to the community,” said Owner Brenda Williams.
Past recipients of this generous donation have been Friends of Mia, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Morningside.
Other finalists in the small business award category were Ice Chips Candy Company and Meconi’s Italian Subs.
The last award, corporate employer of the year, went to Panorama, a company with a mission to provide quality housing, health care, and services for seniors at an affordable cost.
Established 50 years ago, Panorama houses many seniors 62 and over in a community where residents can enjoy computer, travel, hobby clubs, gardening, a swimming pool and exercise facilities, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and fine dining.
The other finalists for this category were Alaffia and Twinstar Credit Union.
The EDC created the annual award meeting over 20 years ago as a way to pay tribute to the business and non-profit community and the important role each plays in supporting the fabric of our region, said Michael Cade, executive director of the EDC.
Starting in January of each year, anyone from the business community can nominate a business or nonprofit organization in Thurston County for one of the four award categories.
From the nominations, a selection committee, which is comprised of members from the EDC Board of Directors and the previous year’s award winners, chooses three finalists for each award category.
After all the finalists have been interviewed, the committee makes their final decisions on the award winners.
“It’s very hard to choose the winners,” said Renée Sunde, the EDC deputy director.
“Every finalist is top notch and there’s no ‘apple-to-apple’ comparison, because each business is unique, both in what it does and how it serves the community,” she said.