Whether the celebration is in-person or virtual, the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce is going forward with plans to honor its members with Small Business Week from Oct. 19-22.
Typically, the week opens with a networking event, followed by a day of business seminars and ending a day later with the awards luncheon, all at the Holiday Inn Lido Beach. Chamber president Gail Loefgren is hoping to be able to stick to that, but the entire schedule can go virtual if the continuing coronavirus pandemic demands it, she said.
“We can always pivot to virtual,” Loefgren said. “We’re trying to be proactive here and think about several different ways to do it and maybe be really different this year.”
Small Business Week is the Chamber’s way of celebrating the best of the best of its member businesses — any member business can be nominated by any member of the community in one of four categories. As in previous years, the categories are Rookie Small Business of the Year (1-3 years old), Small Business of the Year (10 or fewer employees), Small Business of the Year (11-100 employees) and Good As Green Businessperson of the Year.
“We’re working on tweaking the questions and the written (questionnaire) and getting the timeline done,” Loefgren said. “We have a couple of new questions about COVID-19 and the response to that, of course.”
The specifics of the seminars are still in the works as Loefgren and her team work out the schedule, but the decision to stay in-person or shift to virtual will likely be made by Oct. 1, Loefgren said. Most Chamber members say they're not ready for indoor events, so Loefgren is scoping out the possibilities for an outdoor luncheon.
Either way, Small Business Week will be the Chamber’s first major event since the pandemic, and Loefgren is looking forward to honoring the business community that’s struggled and shone throughout the pandemic.
“I think we need to honor everybody,” Loefgren said. “So while everybody deserves recognition, we want to pick out those people who are outstanding and can set an example to the rest of the business community on how they've survived and what they've done that might be an example to other businesses. But this year, I think more than ever, they deserve some recognition.”
Nominations for Small Business Week awards can be sent in by any member of the community and are due to Loefgren by 5 p.m. on Aug. 21. Email [email protected] for the forms.