FirstOntario believes the key to future prosperity lies with the success of small businesses. Our goal of the 1Awards is to help these local businesses get to the next level by recognizing and rewarding the best investments and community-focused plans. This is the fifth year FirstOntario has supported these awards with our community partners in Hamilton and due to its growing success, the 1Awards have expanded to the Niagara Region.

The winners receive cash and in-kind services to help them execute their award-winning plans and the awards are allocated based on each businesses’ needs. In five years, FirstOntario Credit Union and 1Awards partners have invested more than half a million dollars into Hamilton’s small business landscape. Our Hamilton partners include The Hamilton Spectator, Agro Zaffiro LLP, KPMG, Mohawk College, Weever Apps, Biz Magazine and PLAY Advertising who were all on board to support the awards which were valued at over $150,000 this year.

In Niagara, The St. Catharines Standard, Form & Affect, KPMG, Niagara College, Lancaster, Brooks and Welch LLP, Business Link Niagara and Niagara Region partnered together to offer Niagara entrepreneurs $115,000 in cash and in-kind services to the region's winners.

The winners for the 2016 1Awards in Hamilton were announced at an awards breakfast on May 10 and the Niagara winners were revealed at an evening reception on June 9.

From left to right, Blackbird Studios - Lynn Bebee & Kerry Wade, Gameopolis - Jessica Maurice & Nick Sheir, The Mustard Seed - Mary Lou Tanner, Graham Cubitt and Meg Makins.

Mustard Seed Co-op, a co-operative grocery store specializing in local fare, Blackbird Studios, a homemade designer label and Gameopolis, the city's first board game lounge, took home the prizes after a tough battle. The successful candidates were chosen from 41 entries and a group of 10 finalists presented to a judging committee in a Dragon’s Den-style setting before the three winners were chosen. 

From left to right, Urge to Purge - Mark Melloni, Gastrónomo Vagabundo - Adam Hynan-Smith and Tamara Jensen, Tootzie's Tune-Up - Carmelina Lavigna and Gerri Saporito.

In Niagara, El Gastronomo Vagabondo (Peapod Cuisine), a mobile food truck that serves up gourmet cuisine, Tootzie's Tune-Up which offers a unique "hair and maintenance" experience for men and women and Urge to Purge, a decluttering service- came out on top as the first ever Niagara 1Awards winners out of a pool of 26 applicants.

A big thank you to all of our partners for making the 1Awards a continued success and stay tuned for 2017 dates!

Hamilton 1Awards:


Niagara 1Awards:



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