Penticton businesses up for B.C. awards

White Kennedy LLP and SO Country Radio nominated for Small Business B.C. Awards.

Dennis Walker is live on air from his SO Country studio at the Adidas Sportsplex.

Dennis Walker is live on air from his SO Country studio at the Adidas Sportsplex.

Nominations are still being accepted, but two Penticton businesses have already been nominated for the 2015 Small Business B.C. Awards.

White Kennedy LLP, an Okanagan accounting firm, has been nominated for Best Workplace and SO Country Radio, run by Penticton’s own Dennis Walker, has been nominated for both Best Community Impact and the Premier’s People’s Choice award.

“It’s nice that people respect what I am doing,” said Dennis, who started SO Country Radio as an Internet stream radio station two years ago when his former employer, Giant FM, changed owners and format, replacing all the on-air personalities.

Winners will receive the Premier’s Prize of $1,500 cash, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business B.C. education and resources, and one-on-one business mentorship opportunities with notable advisors from the award sponsors.

The recognition is nice, but for Walker the business education would be a big help, especially when it comes to marketing.

“I  struggle on that side of it. I’ve always been on the air,” said Walker, explaining that as a small operation, he now has to be involved in all parts of the business, including selling advertising.

“All these years, I never had to sell,” said Walker, adding that SO Country has a growing following, and he remains a popular emcee and event host.

“I am getting good response, because I show up to as many events as I can. There is no secret to it, I get to as many events as my body will allow me to go to,” said Walker. “I always did that at Giant too. I think there is a lot of importance in being part of the events.

“From the very day I lost my job at Giant, I said I am not going to lose my profile.  I think our model was good over there.”

In order to move on to the next round, SO Country and White Kennedy need to get as many online votes as possible at before public voting closes on Nov. 30. The top 10 finalists will then submit an extended application to narrow down the competition.

If SO Country or White Kennedy makes it into the top five they will then face a Dragon’s Den-style panel of judges to pitch why they should be named the best in B.C.

Nominations also remain open until Nov. 30. Since its inception in 2003, the annual Small Business B.C. Awards has become one of the largest and most widely-recognized contests in B.C.. Last year, 470 local small businesses were nominated by the close of the contest, including Burger55 and owner Chris Boehm, who made it all the way to the final round.

The awards acknowledge the contribution that over 400,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs in our province make to their local communities and the global economy. After all, 98 per cent of businesses in B.C. are small businesses, responsible for $14.4 billion of the province’s exported goods and services, and the Thompson Okanagan region is home to 59,000 of them.