Business leaders and community members gathered virtually to cheer each other on during the Clatsop Economic Development Resources 2021 awards presentation on May 20.
State Sen. Betsy Johnson and Rep. Suzanne Weber both spoke at the event and commended the economic development group in helping businesses navigate the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions.
Johnson said she thinks business owners have been frustrated while dealing with the changing restriction levels and the uncertainty of keeping their businesses afloat during the pandemic.
“One of the things that has helped tremendously is CEDR and the Clatsop Small Business Development Center and their teams,” Johnson said.
Weber said she wanted to recognize the business community in Clatsop County, as well as Kevin Leahy, executive director of the economic development group, for doing a yeoman’s job to accomplish everything he has through the pandemic.
“The economic toll this pandemic has wrought on us has been especially felt by women in the workforce who found themselves on pause or even ending their careers to stay at home to educate their children, and small businesses with a shortage of employees,” Weber said. “We’re going to have to brace ourselves for the summer when everyone arrives here on the coast expecting service and supplies and appreciating all the beauty we have to offer.”
In a pre-recorded video montage, Leahy and others involved in the organization presented 16 awards to business leaders across Clatsop County.
• Destiny Dudley, of Culinary Concierge, won as the business leader of the year for a new business while Chris Laman, director of Columbia Memorial Hospital-Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Collaborative, won individual business leader of the year.
Laman thanked all the health care workers and hospital staff members at both Columbia Memorial Hospital and Providence Seaside Hospital, as well as the all volunteers who have been administering vaccines.
“And we are so lucky to have a wonderful, dedicated bunch of individuals at the health department, and Clatsop County should give a lot of thanks to all those workers,” Laman said.
• Terry and Todd Robinett, of Merry Time Bar & Grill, won business leader of the year for a small business in North County while Mrs. Tami’s Daycare & Preschool won the equivalent for South County.
The exceptional customer service awards went to Insomnia Coffee Company for a small business in South County, to Purple Cow Toys for a small business in North County and to Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa for the large business division.
• Good to Go in Astoria received the innovation award for a small business while TLC, a division of Fibre Federal Credit Union, won the innovation award for a large business.
Heidi Dlubac, of Good to Go, said this past year has been difficult, but innovation comes out of necessity for trying to survive.
“There’s been a lot of innovative people around us too and we’ve taken a lot of encouragement from them and our customers, trying to pivot the business to meet the needs of the moment,” Dlubac said.
• Economic impact awards went to Slurpalicious for a small business and to Hampton Lumber in Warrenton for a large business.
“We are truly humbled that someone thinks we made an impact, let alone on a county level,” said Akshay Dua, who owns Slurpalicious with his wife, Candy Yiu.
• Meanwhile, community impact awards went to Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Seaside clinic for a large business, to Papa Murphy’s in Seaside for a small business in South County and to Raymond Graves, the owner of fishing vessel Ken & Al Inc., for a small business in North County.
• Providence Seaside Hospital and Spruce Up Warrenton each received community supporter awards.
Following the awards video, Chris Breitmeyer, president of Clatsop Community College, surprised Jessica Newhall, associate director of the college’s Small Business Development Center, with an award for her transformative leadership. Breitmeyer said Newhall has been instrumental in providing community support to businesses in the county.
Newhall thanked the business community for the resilience, passion, patience and perseverance it’s shown over the past year-plus in keeping the economy afloat.
“We as a community have led the state in what we’ve been able to accomplish in Clatsop County and I think we’re going into a recovery period that will allow us to be stronger all together,” Newhall said.