GEORGETOWN — There may be talk of rural decline these days, but there was nothing but rural shine at the recent Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce awards dinner.
Boasting another year of growth, the eastern chamber hosted a Business Excellence Award dinner at the Kings Playhouse and named Nabuurs Gardens the 2012 winner.
“The eastern part of the Island is filled with entrepreneurs and I'm glad to say we posted good tourism numbers this year,’’ said Innovation Minister and local MLA Allan Roach during the presentations. “And there is much buzz about how businesses are creating new developments from the rich resources at this end of the province.”
While there were tourism statements suggesting things weren’t quite so rosy this past summer, Roach said eastern P.E.I. failed to follow that trend.
He cited the tremendous growth of the International Tuna Cup in North Lake to the expansion of cranberry operations around the region.
“There is much diversifying going on here and new opportunities being pursued in eastern P.E.I. from organic farming to vineyards and even sea glass.”
Chamber president Chris Nicholson said the chamber has grown to include 174 member companies and the banquet is sponsored by Eastlink. Music was provided by harpist Jill Harris.
A long time family business that started as a strawberry patch and grew to a highway garden centre was presented the 2012 Business of the Year.
“It’s an honour for us and we love doing this for our customers,’’ said Arnie Nabuurs of Nabuurs Gardens. “And it’s very nice to be recognized by our peers.”
Nabuurs Gardens began in 1986 in Lower Montague with 20 acres and has grown to 100 acres and four greenhouses in Brudenell.
“It’s like an outdoor farmers’ market promoting all local products,’’ said Nicholson noting the judging was conducted by four off Island business people.
Other nominees for the 2012 Business Excellence Award included; Coopers Store, Belfast, Country Garden Florist, Montague, Mr. Plumber, Charlottetown, Target Tours, Morell, Judson AutoTech, Albion, P.E.I. Mussel King, Morell.
Guest speaker was David Eisnor of Halifax Backpackers who enthralled the crowd with his tales of starting his business over a decade ago.
“Never take no for an answer,” he said.