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.

Cass County

Two arrested following Ontwa Township drug bust

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,756 cases, 19,664 deaths

Cassopolis

Cassopolis receives NEP grants

Education

EPS to host student vaccination clinic

Cass County

PHOTO STORY: Cass District Library hosts Barnyard to Go event

Education

Books for Bikes program continues at Eagle Lake Elementary

Cassopolis

Former Cassopolis village trustee dies at age 85

Business

Lavender U-pick farm opens for season in Niles

Berrien County

United Federal Credit Union helps the Alex Mandarino Foundation raise $35,000 for childhood cancer research

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Middle School honor roll

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,582 cases, 19,662 deaths

Cass County

Niles woman injured in Mason Township crash

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer announces plan to expand tuition-free college to 22,000 additional Michiganders

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Union High School honor roll

News

Niles Township residents raise concerns about theft, dangerous intersection

News

PHOTO STORY: Work on downtown Niles mural begins

Cass County

Cass County Courts restart jury trials, reopen building

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Middle School Esports team finishes successful inaugural season

Cass County

PHOTO STORY: Cass District Library branches host tie-dye workshops

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: June 16-20

News

Niles police searching for information in June 13 shooting

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,491 cases, 19,647 deaths

Cassopolis

Cassopolis residents host Juneteenth event at Clisbee Park

Berrien County

I&M provides update on power outages