ESTEVAN - The Estevan Chamber of Commerce opted for a new way to appreciate Estevan businesses this year.
The Estevan Business Excellence Awards (EBEX) is a biennial ceremony held to acknowledge Estevan businesses. This year, instead of an award ceremony for different categories, they decided on a selection of videos.
“EBEX Goes to the Movies is a celebration of Estevan businesses,” said Jackie Wall, executive director of the chamber. “Instead of doing our normal EBEX, we shifted it to celebrate Estevan businesses, and it coincided with a grant we got from the government to produce videos about local businesses.
“We wanted to focus on as many businesses as possible, because of what that entire industry has been through, over this whole pandemic.”
In a normal year, local businesses would be nominated in different categories. One award is given out per category.
“We have six categories: young entrepreneur, online business, non-profit, hospitality, newcomer business and customer service. We shifted the categories this year, because of the initiatives put forward and for the industries that were really impacted by COVID. Some of the direction from government funding is focusing on specific categories.”
Wall explains how the Chamber made those changes.
“Online business was a new focus, and (the government) recognizes that a lot of Estevan businesses have shifted to an online format so they can serve their customers in a new way,” she said. “And another one we did was non-profits, to highlight what non-profits do in our community. For example, Woodlawn Regional park, the Estevan Bruins, among others.”
Wall also speaks about how their decision to forgo a virtual award ceremony for a virtual movie presentation wasn’t as bad as some might expect.
“The main reason was because we’d received so much government funding for videos and we really wanted to take this funding and videos and combine them into one celebration of Estevan business. The business industry has been hit really hard, so we wanted to feature them as much as possible,” she said.
“We could have done a virtual award ceremony, but part of that is logistics.
“What we initially planned was that we were going to launch the videos on the big screen at the Orpheum. We were going to show the videos, have an intermission, and then show a feature film, so people could get a whole evening out of it,” Wall explains. “When the government announced the vaccines and the passports, we were two weeks away from the ceremony. We did not have all the information we needed to go through with the event.”
Wall said that those were the reasons they chose a virtual solution.
“Everything was virtual, and you could even pick up what we called a party pack. You could get a program for the videos, some Orpheum Theatre popcorn, and then a pop and a charcuterie tray to have your own little watch party to watch the videos,” she explains.
“A few people watched it at their businesses, because their business was being featured so they hosted a watch party of their own.”
Wall said the night was ultimately a success, with people from the surrounding Estevan area logging in to watch the videos.
“In some ways, it allowed us to reach a broader area, so people from outside Estevan could see the videos,” Wall said. “It also allowed us to continue with the event with all the changing regulations. It was really cool, people were really excited about it. I got a few Snapchats of people at their houses, their feet up and their popcorn in their hands.
“Because we had to do everything virtual, it just made people feel special, and we're hoping we can develop this idea further.”
Wall also talks about the application process and the membership program of the Chamber.
“Businesses actually had to apply for the video project, and we were able to fill all 35 spaces. Along with that, we have a program running the Look Online Local project. It’s a directory that features businesses so you can look and shop online.”
The chamber wanted people to know that when they’re in situations like a lockdown and that if people aren’t comfortable going inside businesses they can just do it online.
Wall said that only 31 videos were able to be produced and featured in the EBEX, but says that they were enough. All 35 video applicants turned out to be members of the Chamber as well, she said.
The videos will be up on the Estevan Chamber of Commerce YouTube channel and they will be given to the businesses featured, so they can advertise or use the footage as they see fit.