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PBIA honours its own

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Downtown Pembroke took the time recently to acknowledge its best and brightest.


On Oct.24, Kerry's hosted the Third Annual Downtown Pembroke Awards, during which the business community had the opportunity to honour their peers for their contributions to the city's downtown.

Addressing those assembled for the awards ceremony, Michael St. Jean, Pembroke Business Improvement Area chairman, said they are here to celebrate downtown businesses who have been acknowledged by their peers.

“I can think of no finer compliment than being nominated by old and new businesses alike,” he said.

“The word is out about downtown Pembroke,” St. Jean said. “With our curb repairs, newly paved main street and soon to be new lights on main, we are a retail, restaurateur and professional force like no other in the Ottawa Valley. Morale in downtown Pembroke has never been higher than it is now.”

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was EGM Insurance.

Heather Sutherland, PBIA manager, said EGM Insurance is a fully licensed insurance brokerage based in Ontario that has been serving the needs of the residents and businesses of the communities of Petawawa and Pembroke since 1942.

“They pride themselves on having created a one-stop shop for all of their clients’ insurance needs,” she said.

“They also understand that to truly be considered a part of the community you serve, you have to be integrated in that community and actively participating. That is why EGM Insurance has always taken an active role in the community.”

Sutherland said EGM's support for their community includes food giveaways at Christmas time, the Jason Blaine charity golf tournament, the Relay for Life, and much more.

“They have been a mainstay of the insurance community in Petawawa and Pembroke for decades, and their goal is to remain so for many decades more,” she said.

The Mayor’s Award was presented by Pembroke Mayor Michael LeMay to Conrad Pool of Sleepwell Property Management and Ash Arif, of SynerCapital Investment Reality, Brokerage and Asset Management.

“The downtown holds a special place in the hearts of Conrad and his family, so when deciding where to invest next, downtown Pembroke was a logical choice,” LeMay said. “The goal is simple, to bring the downtown back to life, to bring it back to its former glory.”

Sleepwell Property Management owns 34 commercial units and 41 residential units within the downtown core. It has helped launch several new businesses within the core of downtown. A total of 14 new businesses have been recruited and are currently operating or in the process of opening soon.

“Ashraf has over 16 years of experience purchasing, selling and managing real-estate,” LeMay said. “He invests in it, manages it, improves it, syndicates it, sells it and brokers the financing of it.”

The mayor said when Ashraf was first introduced to downtown Pembroke, he was amazed at the heritage and character it had. He envisioned a place where people could come together and experience some of what it was like when this area was first developed but with a modern day touch.

“He currently owns 58 residential units in the City of Pembroke and 11 commercial locations,” LeMay said. “One thing you need to know about Ashraf is that he loves to give back, and he is most proud of his success in Pembroke.”

Presented the Best Neighbour Award was Janna Fortin of Janna’s Gallery Café.

Sutherland said this award recognizes a business or individual that provides support to other businesses and properties, supports downtown Pembroke and keeps his or her storefront or property clean and tidy.

“This year’s recipient is known to their neighbours as someone who will always help out if needed,” she said. They are seen frequenting many downtown businesses, as well as supporting the community through their business.

“Along with a clean storefront and eye-catching displays, this recipient is also known for just being great to chat to,” Sutherland said.

Community Champion Awards were presented to both Janna Fortin of Janna’s Gallery Café and Sleepwell Property Management.

Michelle Vachon, Downtown Facilitator, said this award recognizes a business or property owner who is an advocate for downtown Pembroke and contributes to and is involved in the community whether it be through volunteering or through the donation of product or time or money.

She said Sleepwell Management Company is forever advocating for the downtown core both on and off the clock. They contribute to local charities, shop locally and attend downtown events and functions. They have helped breathe new life into downtown through investments, beautification and maintenance.

Vachon said Janna’s Gallery Café is recognized by neighbours as someone who not only supports the community through their business and volunteer efforts, but also is such a strong supporter of downtown. Whenever asked, they always happily donate product or gift certificates to local tournaments and fundraisers.

Presented the Pretty As A Picture Award was the business dot., owned by Renae Rotblatt.

Vachon said this award recognizes a business or property that always has an eye-catching, interesting and clean storefront area. It recognizes those who add to the charm and positive recognition of downtown through its cleanliness and appealing display.

“This year’s recipient was recognized by several neighbours for the beautiful and eye-catching displays at the store,” she said. “People appreciate not only the change in the displays, which were described as gorgeous, on trend and seasonal, but also how those displays have generated positive discussion in the community and are encouraging people to shop downtown.”

Finally, Patricia Careau of LEAP Health Hub was recognized with a Characters of Downtown Award. Vachon said this year’s recipient seems to embody the essence of downtown; they live here, they work here, and they simply love downtown.

“They are often seen walking along main street checking in with shop owners, and talking to patrons of downtown as well. They are constant support of our businesses, by shopping here, sharing information in person or via social media and by bringing awareness of what downtown has to offer to the city at large,” she said.

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