Rural Oxford EDC hands out local business awards

Several outstanding Oxford County businesses were honoured on May 23 as the Rural Oxford Economic Development Corporation held its 10th anniversary award event at the Otter Creek Golf Club.

About 140 of Oxford County’s top business owners and supporters turned out for the presentation of 11 awards.

Rural Oxford EDC Board Chair Nancy Demarest said teamwork was in full view. 

“Looking across the room and seeing ten years of history from volunteers to staff, to community builders and rural business owners. Together we celebrated both the nominated and those who took home an award. Collaboration is the common denominator in all that we do.” 

She added that her organization and many others work together to help rural companies grow and succeed.

“The many recently celebrated award finalists and winners are testimony to what can be accomplished by working together. I couldn’t be prouder to be Chair of Rural Oxford EDC.”

Ronda Stewart, Rural Oxford EDC’s Economic Development Director, said she continues to be impressed with the teamwork in the county.

“Collaboration and camaraderie are thriving in Oxford County and our 10th Anniversary and Awards Event last week delivered one more example of the collaborative spirit that is at the core of what we do.” 

Ronda added working alongside so many incredible people is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.

“It is an honour to work closely with so many incredible people every day and it was truly a gift to be able to bring so many folks together to celebrate our successes collectively. As each community partner called a new award winner to the stage, the room filled with heartwarming applause and some tears of joy shed as well.”

Thank you to everyone who had a hand in shaping this fine organization into what it is today. We will continue in our mission to help others achieve business success in Rural Oxford.”

Among the dignitaries on hand was Ernie Hardeman who said having so many incredible small businesses in the same place at once is what makes Oxford County an incredible place to do business.

“When I look at the places across the country I get involved with in my job I’ve never thought of any area better than Oxford and tonight proves that.”

Many of the award nominees and winners are part of agri-tourism, a growing part of the county’s economy. Hardeman said the sector is expanding more rapidly here than anywhere else.

“It’s all part of how we have changed and grown economically. When I first started in politics no one even talked about tourism let alone try and develop it in our rural area. The way agriculture is changing we have to make special efforts to protect our culture by encouraging people to go for awards like tonight.”

He added when agriculture is discussed the conversation is normally about increasing yields, farming more efficiently and being more competitive globally, something that wasn’t the case at the awards banquet.

“When you look at tonight’s awards, they were almost all directed at how we are building the agricultural community, not how much more efficiently we are fixing our food. This is about how we can protect our rural communities.”  

Jim Pickard, the longest-standing Rural Oxford EDC volunteer, was presented with the Community Leadership Award for an individual. Jim, an active member of the Sweaburg community, makes thoughtful contributions, asking probing questions and challenges respectfully, always keeping the region’s needs above individual township interests first and foremost.

Congratulations to our other award winners:

Life-Time Business Achievement – Bright Cheese & Butter Manufacturing Co.

Life-Time Business Achievement – Jakeman’s Maple Products

Life-Time Business Achievement – Oxford Pallet & Recyclers Ltd.

 Life-Time Business Achievement – Quehl’s Restaurant & Catering

Starter Company – Terra Nova Nordic Spa & Cafe

Welcoming Workforce – Salford Group

Agri-Food Excellence – Red Dragon Dairy

Oxford Fresh Farm Gate – Deep Purple Lavender Farm

Oxford Fresh Farm Gate – Berrylicious Fruit Farm

Business Leadership – Willow Grove Animal Wellness Centre

Community Leadership – Jim Pickard

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