Greater Gainesville Chamber Hosts annual Business of the Year Awards

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Business leaders from more than 30 Gainesville companies dressed in white to symbolize a fresh start for the local business community at the 2021 Greater Gainesville Chamber’s Business of the Year awards. The award ceremony didn’t happen last year because of the pandemic.

“As the first large-scale event since COVID, we wanted this to be an event we could enjoy,” Greater Gainesville Chamber President and CEO Eric Godet said.

As guests mingled in the University of Florida Performing Arts Center lobby over cocktails and appetizers before the awards, they expressed excitement.

Fernando Sanchez, a member of the GRUCom company, said this past year made networking tough for this kind of event.

“These events create a sense of normalcy,” he said. “An opportunity to come together.”

The festive mood continued into the award ceremony and evening programming, with dancing and balloon throwing between the awards.

Greater Gainesville Chamber Marketing Director Shaw Adcock said that the award ceremony also excited members of his organization.

“We want to make this about our members and want them to meet everyone,” he said. “We’re celebrating the best parts of our community.”

Award categories included the company with the commitment to community involvement and the best employer. A record number of businesses applied for recognition this year; over 30 businesses were represented in the finals. The businesses that applied and were represented within the program are just a selection of the more than 1,000 businesses and over 80,000 members in the Chamber.

Adcock said there were 30 judges who helped in determining award winners this year.

The New Business of the Year award recognized an outstanding business that has been open for less than 2 years. The winning business, Kidstrong, helps young children build confidence through socialization, public speaking, and other important life skills.

Nonprofits were divided into large and small groups: small organizations that raised less than $2 million and large organizations that raised more.

Rebuilding Together, an organization improving the safety and health of homeowners in need, received the small nonprofit award. Haven Hospice, one of the first hospice companies founded in Florida, won the large nonprofit award.

Exactech, which has been operating in Gainesville since 1994, received the Tech Company of the Year Award.

Other awards recognized commitment to the environment and to diversity, equity and inclusion.

About Violet Comber-Wilen

Violet is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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