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December 28, 2020

South Portland seeks 'pivot pioneers,' other pandemic heroes for annual business awards

an aerial photos showing a business district and a long bridge extending over water to a city with the ocean and islands in the background Courtesy / City of South Portland South Portland is changing up its Business & Economic Development Awards categories this year to reflect the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Portland's Economic Business & Development Awards are going to look a little different this year, and not just because the ceremony will be virtual.

The city's Economic Development Committee has shaken up the award categories to reflect the pandemic, with recognition going to businesses and people specifically related to their response to COVID-19. Normally the award categories would be things like "Small Business of the Year," "New Business of the Year," and the like. This year, the committee will recognize "COVID Pivot Pioneer" and "Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now," among others.

"We have decided to recognize the struggles that our business community has faced and to focus our awards on honoring the businesses keeping us safe and working through the pandemic," William Mann, economic development director, said in a news release. "Let us recognize our local heroes. The businesses that make South Portland a great community. The ones that kept us safe and kept us working."

The categories are:

  • COVID Pivot Pioneer. A company that adapted its business quickly to come up with new ways to operate and do business safely. "Who are the trailblazers that first made a shift to keep their businesses going? Examples would be converting a building window to a take-out window — or launching a touch free pick up or delivery system," the release said.
  • Heroes Helping Heroes. A company that donated food, PPE or others supplies or volunteered to help those on the front lines. Examples might be a restaurant that donated meals to hospital workers or manufacturing that shifted to making masks donated to front line workers.
  • Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now. A new business that opened in the middle of the pandemic. "An example would be anyone with the grit and fortitude to open their doors for business in 2020," the release said.
  • Job Preserver. A business that helped keep up their workforce numbers by adapting to the "new normal." Examples include shifting to remote work or changing the operational model to keep people working safely.
  • Keeping Us Safe. A business that did a great job in creating a safe way to stay open during the pandemic for their employees and customers. Some examples: a business providing PPE to employees and customers, doing a good job of social distancing or moving to contactless delivery or pickup.
  • Impact Award. A business that was able to make a significate impact to help improve the economy in South Portland despite the pandemic. Examples would be a development project that was able to keep moving forward or a business that was able to pivot and hire more workers to meet a new need.

Nominations may be made through an online form, and the deadline for nominations is Jan. 15, and the city will host a virtual awards ceremony at a date to be announced. Award winners will receive a banner or plaque.

Nominees must be located in South Portland, produce high-quality goods or services, treat their employees well and be good community partners. The EDC Awards Committee will review all nominations and provide its recommendations to the full EDC for its review and approval.

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