PMCN to give out $45,000 in cash prizes to local entrepreneurs this Thursday

Article by Natalie MacMillan

The Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network (PMCN) IMPACT Awards are going ahead this Thursday, May 27th, virtually. The virtual gala, held on a platform called Remo, will give out $45,000 in awards to various recipients from across the region.

Joan Bendon from Flip Events, is planning and producing the Gala, and has been involved since the beginning of the IMPACT Awards, in 2018. She designed and produced the gala again in 2019, but in 2020, the awards were at a standstill.

This year, Bendon says that they “were challenged to think about how we could give out this money.”

Three of the recipients will receive money from the Muskoka founders Circle, and two of them from the Parry Sound Founders Circle. The Parry Sound Founders circle is a new group, beginning in 2019.

These awards are given out to “recognize entrepreneurs whose start-up businesses have the greatest potential for success,” from Muskoka and Parry Sound. For Parry Sound, there are two cash prizes, $5,000 for second place, and $10,000 for first place. Muskoka-based finalists have three cash prizes, $5,000 for third, $10,000 for second, and $15,000 for first place.

Having no gala last year, Joan says “we just got tired of waiting to be able to get these well deserved finalist rewards for all their hard work.”

It was the idea of Stuart Morley, Executive Director of PMCN, to do a virtual or hybrid event.

“As we saw the story changing,” Bendon says. “We decided that we couldn’t even risk a hybrid event. So we went straight for a virtual event.”

This is not going to be any old Zoom event, however. Bendon is excited about the platform they’ll be using.

“What we’re so excited about is this platform that we’re using called Remo. It’s something that is going to allow people to see each other, talk to each other, sit at a table, and do a lot of networking,” she says.

This decision came from recognizing what the PMCN IMPACT Awards were so effective at when they could run in-person.

“We needed to capitalize on the parts that were really good for us, like networking and going to see your friends, and getting all dressed up.”

Even though the event is virtual, they’re asking attendees to get dressed up and take selfies. They have the chance to win a $500 gift card to JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa.

The Chamber has been a huge part of these awards, Joan says.

“The Chamber is a really important part of the community, because they are representing our small businesses.”

Participants could purchase the Experience Box with their ticket, which was filled with local products, and helped put together by the Chamber.

“With our Experience Box, we invited small businesses to help us out with that, which they did,” Bendon says. “It’s like saying, ‘help us experience Muskoka through supporting small businesses’, and reminding us that we’re all in this together.”

Bendon wants to recognize the Founders Circle Members who have given money to PMCN to award to a finalist.

“The founders have been so supportive,” she says. “They’ve each taken at least $1,000 of their own money to put towards this.”

The finalists are as follows. For Parry Sound Area Founders Circle Choice Awards: Ross Armstrong from Solar Wind Reliance Initiatives Ltd., Jordan Higgins and Kris Phillips from Higgins & Phillips Innovations Inc., Diana Clements from Parry Sound Forest School, Sonya McEwen from Adventure Academy, and Brian Hartman from Forever Barbeque.

For the Muskoka Founders Circle Choice Awards the finalists are: Todd Croxall from Croxall Farms, Kristi MacDonald and Kevin Parchment from Enviroluv, Kurt Muntz from Bubbler Buddy, Ian Colquhoun from Xiom, and Anya Wingfield from Stepping Stone Early Academy Ltd.

Bendon is looking forward to celebrating with the Founders Circles and finalists this coming weekend.

“Let’s look fabulous. Let’s celebrate. Let’s give these beautiful finalists some money.”