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And the Sault's Company of the Year is – hey it's us!

Mike Oliveira, Jake Alphonso, Asima Vezina also honoured as innovators
Company of the Year 2019 SSMARt Awards
Left to right: Village Media's David Helwig, Donna Hopper, Carrie Walls, Jasmyn Rowley, Tracy Stoneman and Rob Speers at the 14th annual SSMARt Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. Photo supplied

A company that grew out of SooToday to become one of Ontario's largest digital news networks was one of seven firms and individuals recognized last night at the 14th Annual SSMARt Innovation Awards. 

Sault-based Village Media Inc. won Company of the Year award.

Hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, the SSMARt awards honour innovative contributions to the agricultural and science & technology sectors in Algoma District.

"This local business is growing to make an impact on international scale," said Lisa Bell-Murray, chief financial officer with OLG, as she presented the Company of the Year award.

Village Media "is innovating and showcasing exceptional leadership in its sector daily," Bell-Murray said, adding that the company has "proven its dedication to supporting the Algoma region time and time again."

On Wednesday, Village Media launched as its 12th owned-and-operated Ontario news site.

Recently moved into the former Royal Bank/Credit Counselling building at 298 Queen Street East, Village Media has strategic partnerships across Canada with publishers including Dougall Media, Glacier Media, Great West Digital, Laurentian Media and Rogers Media.

The firm also has international partnerships with McClatchy in the United States and Archant Media in the United Kingdom.

Also nominated for 2019 Company of the Year were Hydrotech Inc. and Thomson’s Farm.

Jake Alphonso, an Algoma University work study student, received the Innovative Youth of the Year Award. Alphonso solved a research data collection problem by re-engineering bird feeders to prevent squirrels from accessing them.

Mike Oliveira, school-based mathematics facilitator with Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, was named Educator of the Year.

Asima Vezina received the Women in Leadership Award but insisted on accepting it on behalf of Algoma University. "I work with the most incredible team," Vezina said. "One leader cannot experience the success that we're experiencing right now. It's really taking the entire community."

Here's the full list of winners and nominees:

Innovation In Marketing Award

Future SSM (winner)

Invasive Species Centre, Asian Carp Canada, Jeronamo Solutions (nominees)

Innovative Project of the Year Award

Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall (winner)

Ammotext, Shifting Indigenous Frontline Tactics, EarlyON Mobile Services, Thomson’s Win Barn (nominees)

Innovative Youth of the Year Award

Jake Alphonso (winner)

Kaydee Brown, Meghan Gray (nominees)

Steve Butland Innovative Educator of the Year Award

Mike Oliveira (winner)

Mike Flammia, Kristen Berger, Lisa Keranen, Becky Hodgson (nominees)

Innovative Start-Up of the Year Award

Plato Testing (winner)

Findlay’s Fungus, TruNorth Chaga (nominees)

Women in Leadership Award

Asima Vezina (winner)

Jennifer Rushton, Laurie Zeppa, Sandra Holmberg, Terri Felix (nominees)

Company of the Year Award

Village Media (winner)

Hydrotech Inc., Thomson’s Farm (nominees)

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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