By Brieanna Wood, Intern

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce and BankFive are pleased to recognize the significant contributions and achievements of our region’s businesses with the presentation of the 2017 APEX Awards in the categories of Small Business, Large Business and Non-Profit/Educational Institution. Although this recognition ceremony has been around for quite some time, this past Thursday was the event’s debut as its own occasion – separate from the Chambers esteemed Good Morning SouthCoast.

With over thirty nominees this year, the painstaking task of narrowing down one of the largest turnouts to date was no easy one. Each nominee has played a unique role within the community and contributed to the economic development of the SouthCoast.

“Large Business of the Year” for 2017, was presented to LifeStream.

Presented with “Large Business of the Year” award for 2017, was LifeStream. Established in 1976, the founders of LifeStream aimed to improve physical and mental healthcare, whereas many viewed this form of care with a stigma, and much of it institutionalized – so many afflicted were left with little quality of life and fulfillment. Today, LifeStream has grown as the region’s leading human services organizations and employs over 500 people in 39 different office and program locations.

The six runner-ups for this year’s Large Business of the Year award were as follows: AFC Cable Systems, Inc., Brahmin Leather Works, Fernandes Masonry, Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP, Summit Retail Solutions, and Tegra Medical.

Presented with “Small Business of the Year” for 2017 was SEASTREAK.

Presented with “Small Business of the Year” award was SEASTREAK. Located on New Bedford’s historical waterfront, SEASTREAK offers high-speed catamaran transport to metropolitan New York, New Jersey, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. In addition to their commuter services, SEASTREAK offers an array of special events, such as sightseeing cruises and tours, daytrips, and year round getaways.

Twelve other businesses were nominated for this year’s award, which include; Acorn Management Inc., All Friends Smokehouse, Century House, Darn it! Inc., Days Health and Sports, Dorothy Cox’s Chocolates, Gaspar’s Sausage Company, H. Loeb Corporation, Hampton Inn of Fairhaven/New Bedford, Jim’s Organic Coffee, Poyant Signs, and SERVPRO.

Presented as “Non-Profit Organization of the Year” was Child & Family Services, Inc..

Presented with “Non-Profit Organization of the Year” award was Child & Family Services, Inc.. Being one of the oldest non-profits in Southeastern Massachusetts, Child & Family Services, Inc. opened their doors in 1843 as the New Bedford Orphans’ Home to help children left homeless or without families. Since then, the New Bedford Orphans’ Home has had many faces, changing their name alongside changing times and attitudes towards the aid of disadvantaged children. Between 1910 and 1948, New Bedford Orphans’ Home became New Bedford Children’s Aid Society. Then, once again, during 1948-1999, New Bedford Children’s Aid society became known as New Bedford Child & Family Services. Which leads us into present time, where the organization goes by Child & Family Services, signifying their extended footprint well beyond New Bedford. The non-profit now offers more services than ever before, such as Outreach & Counseling programs, Psychiatry, Support Groups and many more.

“Educational Institution of the Year” for 2017 was presented to Bristol Community College.

In addition to “Non-Profit Organization of the Year”, comes the “Educational Institution of the Year” award, which Bristol Community College had the honor of receiving. Chartered in 1965, Bristol Community College has become a staple in the community. Offering more than 150 career and transfer programs that lead to Associates degree’s in science, arts and applied services, along with certificates of accomplishment and/or achievement. With five accessible locations and comprehensive programs such as their online eLearning alternatives, Bristol Community College offers many enrichments within the community.

Seven other non-profit and educational institutions were nominated for this year’s award, including Alma del Mar Charter School, Burgo Basketball Associations Interise, Mercy Meals and More, Our Sisters’ School, Veterans Transition House, and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.

Nominations solicited from within the community, and reviewed by a selection committee comprised of Chamber members undertook this responsibility. The selection committee looked for companies who have balanced success with a strong commitment to the community. Each nominee rated on five criteria: number of employees, staying power, growth, social responsibility and innovation. To meet just a few of these goals is a significant accomplishment.

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce extends its appreciation to BankFive for being a partner in this important program. Their commitment as the founding sponsor of the “Business of the Year Awards” program reflects their dedication to our community and their commitment to providing services to small businesses. The Chamber would also like to thank those individuals who submitted nominations for the awards.