The Barrie Business Awards are like the Oscars for the stars of city companies.
"It's turned into something that 's very important. It's very prestigious," said Barrie Chamber of Commerce CEO Rod Jackson. "We received hundreds of nominations this year."
The Chamber held a news conference to announce the finalists Thursday at the Barrie Country Club where the awards gala will be held in November.
The timing of the announcement was particularly sweet for Barrie's Mayor Jeff Lehman.
As he read out the names, Lehman proudly noted how the city's businesses and economy are starting to gain recognition on the national stage.
"The Canadian Federation of Independent Business this week ranked us the third most entrepreneurial city in the country in its rankings of 122 cities," he said.
Lehman also noted a 2016 Moody's Analytics survey that's forecasting Barrie will have the fastest growth in home prices in the entire country for the next five years.
"Faster than Vancouver. Faster than Toronto," he said, adding Barrie has its own economic engine and the companies being recognized are driving that success.
"Their leadership in developing new products, opening up new markets, delivering new services or delivering them in a different way - that's what these awards are all about."
Mark and Joanna Faris of the Faris Team were ecstatic about being finalists in three categories but the Community Builder of the Year was a special nod.
"They're all great companies in the finalists but definitely we'd love to get that one," said Faris, whose brokerage is the number one team for Royal LePage in all of Canada and set an all-time sales record in Royal LePage’s 100-plus year history in 2015.
"It's not like we're seeking recognition from the community," said Joanna Faris, emphasizing their entire team shares the honour. "We really do our best to make a difference in the community and to be able to say we're not just a real estate company - that we are a community builder- that's amazing for us."
Nick L'Ecuyer, founder of the Mortgage Wellness Group, says he was flattered to be a finalist for Young Professional of the Year.
L'Ecuyer has been named on the Top 40 Hot List by Canadian Mortgage Professional Magazine among other national honours.
"We're ninth in Canada. We get lots of really good press within our industry," he said. "But this is directly from our business partners, our community partners and our clients from our local community. It's just that much more of a compliment because it's so local. It's grass roots."
The nominees cover a wide spectrum of established and new businesses, manufacturers and not-for-profit.
The Barrie Food Bank is a finalist in the Not-For-Profit or Charitable Organization of the Year category and the executive director says it's exciting just be nominated.
Peter Sundborg feels the recognition is a validation of the good work of hundreds of volunteers and the community's generosity.
The organization raises a million pounds of food each year to feed the 33,000 people that use the food bank.
"We have 120 weekly volunteers, seven-hundred volunteers who help us throughout the entire year. It's a validation of the fantastic generosity and donations that we received from all of our donors, whether it's individuals, businesses, churches, schools, the city. So many people give."
The 2016 Barrie Business Awards are co-presented by Bell, Busch Systems, City of Barrie, OLG and PowerStream.
Winners be announced at the gala on Nov. 9.
Here is the full list of finalists:
Arch Brown Entrepreneur of the Year
Stephen Loftus (Innovative Automation)
Krista LaRiviere (gShift Labs)
Jimmy Furlano (Tyger Shark)
Young Professional of the Year
Andrew Burke, Georgian Detailing
Mark Faris, The Faris Team, Royal LePage
Nicholas L'Ecuyer, The Mortgage Wellness Group
Small Business of the Year
The Faris Team, Royal LePage
Thee Place for Paws
New Business of the Year
Not-For-Profit or Charitable Organization of the Year
Barrie Food Bank
Manufacturer of the Year
Linear Transfer Systems
Brotech Precision CNC
Large Business of the Year
Fresh Mix Ltd.
Employer of the Year
O'Sullivan Animal Hospital
Springwater Child Care Centre
Linear Transfer Automation Systems
Community Builder of the Year
The Faris Team, Royal LePage