The Lake Champlain Chamber announced its 110th Annual Dinner award winners on January 29 via YouTube Live. While the Chamber has postponed the in-person celebration for the winners, we wanted to still recognize the substantial achievements made by members of our business community in 2020.
The 2020 Award Winners
Emerging Leader Award:
Kim Anderson, Community Health Centers of Burlington
Community Impact Award:
Individual: Leslie McCrorey Wells, Pizzeria Verità, Trattoria Delia and Sotto Enoteca.
A Wayne Roberts New Business Award:
Burlington Code Academy
Workforce Innovation Award:
Business of the Year:
The entire business community
Recognizing our community's resilience
In a typical year, the Lake Champlain Chamber Business of the Year award honors a business that has demonstrated growth in its employment, production, and operations, one that has a substantial history of success, significant achievements in innovation, and superior community involvement through the commitment of time and resources, all demonstrating their positive social and economic impact on the Lake Champlain region.
We couldn’t recognize just one business this year because all businesses deserved recognition. We were honored to be by your side this past year and incredibly proud of your achievements:
Celebrate your resilience by displaying your award on your website and at your office
Here are some of our business community's 2020 achievements:
The Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain completed a transformation of their guestrooms, meeting space, lobby and partnership with local vendors and artists to activate and celebrate our connection with the community they love.
The Opportunities Credit Union team are extremely proud to have helped so many people move into new homes, including 51 immigrant homeowners and 38 1st-time homeowners, and keep people in a safe living situation by providing PPP and other business loans that helped retain over 450 jobs in the area.
Hazelett did not lay-off anyone and they had no known COVID illness amongst them. They were able to deliver consumable, spare, and wear parts to all customers on time which kept them successful. They installed one of their largest machines, ever, in South Carolina.
BCA increased the number of students attending our courses by 3X and watching them start new careers in the tech industry.
The Spirit of Ethan Allen made it through our entire 2020 season with not a single call from contact tracers or the Vermont Dept. of Health. They carried 20,269 passengers safely, and that is something that makes them jump for joy!
VHFA prevented almost 650 foreclosures in Vermont by providing close to $5 million in overdue mortgage payments for people impacted by Covid-19.
Donahue & Associates purchased/renovated and moved into their new offices!
We served over 900 individuals with paid training opportunities; we provided over 260,000 hours of community service; and we continued full operations during the pandemic. We look forward to 2021!
Age Well delivered 300,000 Meals on Wheels to Older Vermonters
CHCB staff’s had the incredible ability to transition to new methods of care delivery in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis. From telehealth and curbside visits to a new outreach van serving members of our community who are experiencing homelessness, their team members have met every challenge with grace and optimism.
CVD successfully advocated for medical cannabis to be declared essential, and their team has been able to maintain uninterrupted operations throughout the span of the pandemic. This has ensured their registered patients get the products they depend on for health and wellness. Across their organization, they’ve successfully transitioned to safe-shopping options, including curbside pickup, drive-thru service, expanded low-cost home delivery, and implementation of a more robust online shopping experience with improved methods of digital/no contact payment. Apart from these operational successes, they are also proud of the social justice initiatives they’ve put in place, most notably the implementation of the Roll it Up For Justice Program through their partnership with the Last Prisoner Project. Since March 2020, they have contributed over $6,500 through both registered patient donations and company matches.
Farrell Distributing’s 300+ employee workforce all have committed to operating across the state safely, and respectfully following all the state’s guidance from day one. Also, their commitment to giving back in 2020 was celebrated by all.
In the summer of 2020, Vermont Day School completed a 7,000sq. foot addition and held a ribbon cutting ceremony (with the help of the Chamber’s giant scissors!) just in time to open school in person, 5 days a week. If it weren’t for this space, they would not have been able to have a successful school year during this pandemic. They are grateful for our community for coming together to help make this happen! They are even more grateful to see their students thriving and inspired by their learning each and every day.
VABVI services were adapted quickly to remote delivery. Their SMART program to train visually impaired seniors on smart devices enabled those individuals to stay connected to the world during the pandemic (they did the same in the flood of 1927 with portable radios!).
Early on during the pandemic, FirstLight employees and sales executives pivoted to working remotely without skipping a beat. FirstLight helped its customers and even non-customers set up Webex meeting platforms, increased bandwidth for its customers in record time, assisted with cloud backups, and helped customers defer payments under hardship. Meanwhile, their installation crews continued to install fiber and network devices throughout the pandemic, and their data center team staffed its locations to ensure networks and servers were operating securely and efficiently.
Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom’s employees did an amazing job engineering, constructing, and converting customers to fiber-optics despite numerous challenges we faced as a result of the pandemic. To date, they’ve converted more than 4,500 customers to fiber, however, they are by no means complete. That number is growing every day and puts them ahead of the nationwide average of 32% of the United States customers having access to fiber-optics and significantly ahead of much of Vermont. They look forward to 2021 and continuing to convert as many customers to fiber-optics as they can. Building a fiber-to-the-home network in rural Vermont is not easy and takes time and extensive capital. Every dollar they invest in fiber is benefiting their customers here in Vermont and the local communities we serve.
Staying true to our mission by serving 83 passengers both cancer patients and caregivers out on Lake Champlain and away from their cancer journey on socially distanced respite sails! Proud to be serving those in our community One Sail at a Time!
Cheese and Wine Traders has stayed open and safe while setting up their new curbside pickup, statewide delivery, and nationwide shipping services!
Freeman French Freeman’s proudest moment came early in 2020, when the new Pomerleau Family YMCA opened its doors after years of planning and construction. Later in the year they advanced several initiatives to improve their workplace, support racial justice, and promote environmental sustainability.
The Best Wester Plus Waterbury Stowe has been recognized as an industry leader in Covid Response for travelers.
Healing Winds Vermont launched their Healthcare Hero program which proved widely popular and sometimes they sailed 4 times a day. Hundreds of Healthcare Heroes guests sailed with Healing Winds during the summer and fall of 2020, and they are so proud to have been able to give back and provide community healthcare workers the stress-reducing respite they so desperately needed during the devastating global pandemic.
Best In VT Tours & Charter is happy to survive 2020-and is looking forward to opening operations back up in 2021.
Champlain Community Services (CCS), a Colchester-based nonprofit offering essential supports to Vermonters with intellectual disabilities and autism, like many LCC members, stayed strong and got creative. An agency known for one-to-one, in-person, community-based supports gathered the resources and will to transition to primarily remote, virtual supports. Some members of CCS’ front line staff donned PPE as essential workers delivering vital health and safety supports throughout. Oh, and during this time CCS was “short-listed” for an international award for innovative practices through the Zero Project.
In 2020 the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington undertook and completed a transformational 17 million dollar renovation. All 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 311 guest rooms and public spaces have a fresh new look to accommodate the needs of today’s travelers and conferences.
They are proud to have made a safe and successful transition to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices all the while still maintaining the same level of service to our clients. They are proud of the commitment their agents made to their communities to help support those in need during the pandemic.
Despite the profound challenges raised by COVID-19, their clinicians and entire staff, on the front lines and behind the scenes, worked tirelessly to ensure patients, families, colleagues and communities received the support and compassionate, professional care they require, expect and deserve.
The Stern Center was able to undergo a successful, rapid conversion to online instruction for 600+ students and 2,400+ professional learning for educators. They grew their Lead to Read collaborations with school personnel: 10 schools, 100+ educators, and ultimately developed of a new fully online model. They also received the Turrell Fund’s S. Whitney Landon Award recognizing our “breakthrough results in the delivery of services to the youngest at-risk children and their families.”
They discovered that the challenges of 2020 created opportunities to better our communities, our organizations, and ourselves, and Local Motion focused on what we could do in all three areas.
COTS expanded their services to meet the needs that emerged because of this global health crisis. This past summer, they launched a brand-new program: their Mobile Outreach Team that provides services to households (1,033 adults and 68 children) who are experiencing homelessness and staying in area motels (22 motels across seven counties). This team of about a dozen service providers offers on-site support, meeting both urgent and emergency needs as well as helping households reach long-term goals and secure sustainable permanent housing.
Birnn Chocolates were deemed essential as food manufacturers so they never had to shut down but they did ask their employees to stay home for six weeks for their own safety. They are proud that they were able to pay everyone fully to stay home and as a husband and wife team, they were able to remain open and ship orders out as needed and figure out the best and safest way to bring people back into the building to continue manufacturing.
Stantec was able to respond quickly to the needs of our employees. Thanks to the Pandemic Plan they already had in place, they moved their staff to remote work even before the official shutdown. While they all navigated this new normal, their company managed to fully integrate the technologies they had only begun to explore in early 2020. They were able to work with the City of Burlington, UVM, and SE Group to connect with a large group of stakeholders on Burlington’s University Place and kept this project on track. Best of all, they were able to keep their staff safe and healthy and continue to serve their clients in the manner to which they had grown accustomed to in our 60+ years working in Vermont.
Spectrum Youth and Family Services is opening a Drop-In Center for teens and young adults in downtown St. Albans at 223 Lake Street. Modeled after Spectrum’s Burlington location, the Center will be open weekdays from 10am – 6pm, offering free lunch and dinner, showers, laundry, mentoring, coaching, and activities to youth ages 14-22.
VRS successful completed the critical rail upgrades associated with the Middlebury Rail Tunnel Project after years of planning and close collaboration with VTrans, the Town of Middlebury, Kubricky Constuction, ECI, and the engineers at VHB, culminating in the grand opening of the new tunnel on September 13, 2020.
In May, with restaurants and schools closed due to the pandemic, dairy farmers had a surplus of milk. Vanguard Renewables partnered with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) on “Farmers Feeding Families” and got 8,600 gallons of donated milk to 4,000 families in need. With food pantries at critically low levels. Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s), Dairy Farmers of America, and Starbucks also joined their Farm Powered Strategic Alliance in December, committing to not only recycle their waste into renewable energy but also to purchase renewable natural gas from our facilities, thereby completing the farm-to-plate-back-to-farm virtuous cycle and demonstrating leadership in addressing the climate crisis.
They flipped the switch on their largest fundraising event and went virtual in June when the pandemic hit and nearly met their $300,000 fundraising goal despite going virtual. They are working with so many partners in Vermont regarding mountain bike trail advocacy and building trails in Vermont that are accessible for everyone. They returned to their programs this summer, albeit modified, so they could get much needed social interaction and exercise programs to our participants.
PP&D added online brochure displays for their brochure distribution customers
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