It was an opportunity for business leaders to be better connected and participate in the Norwalk Reflector Reader’s Choice Awards (RCA).
“I think it just creates buzz and excitement for the business owners and also (allows) the community to be able to engage on a whole different level (and) to be able to support them. And therefore, the businesses will support the community — hand in hand,” said Kelly Lippus, executive director of the Huron County Chamber of Commerce.
Monday marked the start of the RCA nomination period, which runs through Aug. 4. All voting is done online at norwalkreflector.com and will take place Aug. 12 through 30.
“We are doing this to give the people the chance to come in here and nominate … their favorite business or nominate their business. Everybody wants to be named ‘the best of the best in town’ and this is the jumping-off point to get there,” Tandem Media promotions manager Samantha Maschari said.
“I know last year was the first time Norwalk had done (the RCA) in a very long time, so this is the sort of rebranding of it. Now that we got our feet wet in Norwalk, we are trying to grow it and make it bigger and better than ever.”
The awards allow businesses to be highlighted in ways they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
“It … does engage the community and gives them great advertising and promotion. It also gives them something to be proud of,” Lippus said.
This is the first year that Mark Silverwood, owner of Hill's Interiors Inc., has been involved with the awards. He said Monday’s kick-off event allowed him to become aware of other professional entities, “give my voice about the other businesses” and in general, is “a good push” for promotion.
“It’s great for the local businesses because it promotes keeping everyone here. Since it’s held in the chamber here, it promotes the uptown area,” Silverwood added.
Scott Andres, of Deer Creek Woodworks, said he considered the gathering a wonderful chance to connect with people he wouldn’t get a chance to encounter otherwise.
“It’s a great networking opportunity,” he added.
Andres was asked what the chamber of commerce does for businesses.
“It’s a great resource for people if they are looking for a certain type of service” or recommendations, he said. “The chamber has access to all the members to refer people to.”
Maschari was pleased with the turnout.
“It’s great; I’m really happy with it,” she said. “I love that the community is coming in and just showing support. And we love that the mayor just showed up.”
The awards connect residents to businesses and what they offer.
“There’s nothing wrong with some healthy competition between businesses too,” Lippus said.
Maschari provided her perspective of the RCA.
“It’s a shopping list for people,” she said. “People do use that, too. They look at it and go, ‘This is who I need; this is who I’m going to use.’”
The RCA awards party will be held Sept. 26 at the Bronson-Norwalk Conservation Club, 295 Townline Road 151. A “Winners Guide” will be published Sept. 27.