Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Expect the Best' Awards Reflect Changing Business Climate

The “best” just got “better.”

“Expect the Best from West Virginia,” the prestigious recognition program sponsored by the Charleston Area Alliance, has been updated to reflect the realities of today’s business environment.

The 16-year-old awards program spotlights business and non-profit organizations that promote quality of life and excellence in the workplace and community. While maintaining strong focus on quality and service to the community, awards criteria have been updated and expanded to include preparing for growth and responding to challenging economic conditions; attracting and retaining younger employees; promoting inclusion; and incorporating sustainability principles.

“Even the most successful businesses and organizations cannot rely on ‘business as usual’ to stay competitive in today’s environment,” explained Alliance President/CEO Matt Ballard. “We revamped and rebranded ‘Expect the Best’ to highlight the some of the issues that can make a real difference in both short- and long-term success.

“First and foremost is development of a strategic or business plan to help an organization position itself for growth and respond to changing economic conditions,” said Ballard.

Attracting and retaining younger employees is another critical factor, he said. “Workforce concerns are one of the biggest challenges facing local businesses,” Ballard explained. “Their future – and indeed that of our community – will depend on the next generation of employees and leaders.”

Building an inclusive workforce will also shape success, Ballard said. Empirical studies show that diverse work teams are more innovative and profitable to their employers, he explained. “Promoting inclusion is the right thing – and the smart thing – for organizations that want to succeed.”

Implementing sustainability measures can also influence success. “From the simplest measure of installing motion-sensitive light switches to pursuing new opportunities presented by our nation’s energy challenges, every organization can take steps to reduce costs, increase profits and ‘sustain’ its future,” Ballard said.

The panel of judges for the 2009 “Expect the Best” awards has also been expanded and diversified and includes a wide range of leaders from successful large and small businesses and non-profit organizations. The judging committee (in formation) includes: Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis; Stephen Fowler, Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe PLLC; David Hill, Arnett & Foster; John Jarrett, Jarrett Construction Services, Inc.; Pat Kelly, Steptoe & Johnson; Matt Kingery, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP; Callen McJunkin, Callen McJunkin Gallery/The Loft@219; Gail Pitchford, CAMC Foundation; Charles Ryan, University of Charleston; Bill Signorelli, Security America; Kelley Steele, Bluegrass Kitchen; Debby Weinstein, YWCA of Charleston.

“Expect the Best” awards will be given in three categories: Large business, small business and non-profit, government or non-traditional organization.

Based on the information provided during a 15-minute presentation, judges will score how well the applicant business meets the “Expect the Best” award criteria, with a maximum score of 100 points.

The awards will be presented in person at the Clay Center on June 3 during the Alliance's Annual Celebration. Winners will also be showcased in an engaging video, produced by the award-winning firm “Motion Masters,” that will be shown to the hundreds of business and community leaders in attendance.

Deadline for “Expect the Best” applications is Thursday, April 23. Judging will take place April 29 and 30.

Visit to download and application and view the criteria. Or call (304) 340-4253 for more information.


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