NELDON: Nominations open now for Best of the Best

On my walk home for lunch earlier this week, I couldn’t help but realize how many people were out on the streets in the middle of the day, walking from business to business in downtown Niles.

After a year of streets that looked like ghost towns except for the occasional local business supporter pulling over to pick up curbside takeout, the foot traffic warmed my heart.

Although businesses are as close to normal as they have been since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down virtually every aspect of our life in March 2020, they still face struggles. Facing challenges of finding employees to continuing safety protocols and bouncing back from the financial restraints of the last year, the battle is far from over.

Nonetheless, business leaders in all industries have shown they are not only resilient but determined and committed to serving their customers.

Michiana, now is your time to say a giant “thank you” for hanging on through all of the turmoil of the last 15 months. Our Best of the Best contest opened this week!

New this year, Leader Publications has introduced a nomination phase of the competition, so as to make the voting process even fairer and engaging than before.

Here’s how it works:

1. Now through next Friday, June 18, nominate your favorite businesses in nearly 100 categories.

2. The top five nominations in each category will move onto the next round.

3. Next month, you will have the opportunity to vote for your favorite businesses, menu items, nonprofits and professionals out of the top five in each of more than 100 categories.

4. We’ll count the votes and announce the winners!

I look forward to this opportunity each year to celebrate great work being done by countless businesses throughout Cass County and southern Berrien County. Inevitably, each year, a business I haven’t frequented before, or a menu item I haven’t yet tasted, places in the contest, and I find a new treat that I love.

When looking for businesses to solicit for help with various projects, I often revisit the Best of the Best winners guide, basing my decision of which business to utilize on the support of its existing customers, as evidenced by the Beset of the Best contest.

Although Best of the Best is a summer contest, the accolades earned last year-round — and for years after. This recognition is a badge of honor for businesses, and endorsement that Michiana not only supports them but chooses them as their favorite among a field of excellent
competitors.

I encourage you to take 15 minutes in the next week to nominate as many businesses as you have time for. Then, return next month to find out who made the top five and cast your votes again.

Regardless of how the votes turn out, I know we’ll have hundreds of local businesses to celebrate in the coming months.

Giving

Niles Burn Run returns this month for 20th ride

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 892,469 cases, 19,548 deaths

Dowagiac

SMC Board of Trustees adopts 2021-22 budgets

Berrien County

South Bend man gets prison for robbery of Niles business

Dowagiac

PHOTO STORY: Dowagiac Elks celebrate Flag Day

Edwardsburg

Motorcyclist injured in Edwardsburg crash

News

PHOTO STORY: Niles Summer Concert Series kicks off with Bob Seger tribute band

News

Niles Police Log: June 2-9

Buchanan

PHOTO STORY: Buchanan High School graduates Class of 2021

News

Hit-and-run injures Niles woman

News

Niles natives collaborate on song

Dowagiac

Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac visit Dowagiac Rotary

Cass County

Two sentenced on meth charges in Cass County Court

Edwardsburg

Drugs found in Ontwa Township residence

Dowagiac

Annual Sister Lakes wakeboard tournament to return in August

Cass County

Homeless man gets jail time for stealing vehicle in Dowagiac

Berrien County

Illinois man dead, Benton Harbor teen arrested after two vehicle Oronoko Township crash Monday

Dowagiac

Long-lost friends, Navy veterans reunite after 58 years

Berrien County

Honor Credit Union announces Tracy Sanders as VP of operations

Dowagiac

Dowagiac students named to Saint Mary’s College dean’s list

Edwardsburg

Local dispensaries donate to Ontwa Township/Edwardsburg Police Department

News

Brandywine grads aim to achieve dreams in the film industry

Buchanan

Buchanan schools will have shorter Wednesdays starting fall 2021

Education

Parents, district respond after homophobic Snapchat messages surface