Cafes, fish processors, mask makers awarded by chamber

Barista Rachel Creswell prepares a latte at Kayak Cafe. (March 2, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

This year the Cordova Chamber of Commerce launched the “Come Back Better” campaign, focused on helping our local businesses embrace safety measures to protect us all and overcome the challenges which came during the 2020 pandemic year while finding ways to add equity to their business long-term. We reached out to the community of Cordova, our board, and our staff for nominations for the following awards, which were presented at our Annual Meeting, held virtually on Feb. 23.

Business Excellence

This award was given to two businesses (one “large” with 11-plus employees and one “small” with 10 or fewer employees) who demonstrated all-around excellence in business. We looked for consistency and excellence demonstrated in a multitude of areas including but not limited to: leadership, policy and strategy; partnerships and resources; processes, customer service; residents’ perception of the business; and public responsibility.

  • The large business winner selected for this award was Trident Seafoods for their leadership and initiative to create plans for their Cordova facilities to open responsibly and on time for the fishing season. They took seriously the need to protect Cordova and other remote communities by separating their personnel, quarantining and testing. Their leadership in taking appropriate precautions for COVID-19 allowed them to stay operational and service Cordova’s fishing industry. Their willingness to share their plans with smaller operators opened the doors for Cordova’s processors to work together and ultimately helped our fishery remain open this summer.
  • AC Value Center was recognized with an Honorable Mention for their working partnering with the USDA and the Salvation Army to create food boxes that helped keep Cordova fed when so many people were negatively impacted by restrictions. AC also worked to create an online shopping platform, allowing people to order groceries online and have curbside pickup while remaining socially distanced. 
  • The small business winner selected for this award was Baja Taco, for leading the Cordova foodservice industry last spring by taking responsible precautions with her staff and making swift and meaningful changes to customer service logistics. Baja Taco being open, in the heart of our harbor was more important than ever this season – for the community perception of business and to feed our fleet.
  • Cordova Gear was recognized with an Honorable Mention for their efforts to stay open throughout this year. They offer regular hours with social distance and scheduled appointments for private shopping, curbside pick up and delivery.  They have also worked diligently and have increased their online shopping opportunities. They have helped many people enjoy getting outside (benefiting mental health) by sharing knowledge on how to gear up to start new activities, providing suggestions for different adventures, and offering senior discounts on traction.   
Cashier Tara Craig scans items at AC Value Center. (March 2, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Chamber Champion Award

This award was presented to a Cordova business that went above and beyond to partner with and support the Chamber’s mission while honoring the Cordova Chamber’s Code of Ethics.

  • The winner selected for this award was Ace Hardware. Directly in line with the goals of the Chamber, ACE was one of the earliest and most consistent businesses to prioritize employee and customer safety during the pandemic that began in 2020. Their custom-installed public sink at the front of the store and clear, direct signage requiring all entrants to wash hands and wear masks is unique among Cordova retail businesses. Additionally, ACE invested in technology and training for new and effective ways of sanitizing their entire shopping floor multiple times each day, and publicized the effort in order to help Cordovans shop with confidence. ACE also created a new locally-manufactured sanitation product, which helped Cordova businesses tremendously as cleaning supply availability dwindled nationwide. Expanding business and manufacturing in Cordova is directly in line with the Chamber goals. ACE also generously donated the entire cost of brand new, durable lights for the town Christmas tree that will (literally) bring light to our town for years to come. These commercial grade lights had to be cut into manageable lengths and plugs added. Quite a task, which Ace also performed free of charge.
  • Cordova Electric Coop was recognized with an Honorable Mention for being an “invisible asset” to Cordova in that most of what they do is not often directly seen by the community. They are keeping Cordova running with vital services in extreme conditions, adjusting to those conditions and the fluctuating demand based on the seasons. CEC not only partners with the Chamber and sponsors all Chamber events but is an active partner and sponsor across a multitude of projects and events that benefit our community. For several years CEC has volunteered their time, manpower and heavy equipment to the Chamber by hanging lights on the town Christmas tree. This is a feat that might not happen without the generosity of CEC, who gets up on that boom in crazy weather to ensure our town’s tree and hearts are bright.

Community Outreach Award

This is a business, organization, or individual who created a substantial positive impact on the community of Cordova. It could be through implementing new programs & services, creating new resources for residents, offering a unique community service, or any type of community outreach having an impact on the residents of Cordova.

  • The winner selected for this award was Bayview Communications (Cordova Radio). Bayview Communications has provided outstanding service to Cordova this year. They have been willing to host new programs and provide additional and consistent online streaming coverage all year, and chase down accurate information during some very confusing times. Last spring KLAM began hosting weekly radio programs with Medical and Cordova Prepared Staff to keep Cordovans informed and allow for questions to be answered about the COVID-19 pandemic. Online CordovaTV coverage provided residents access to meetings they could no longer attend in person. 
  • Cordova Mask Makers was recognized with an Honorable Mention. This grassroots group of “doers” rapidly mobilized to provide our community with homemade mask resources and regularly resupplied frequent access points, such as harbor ramps, making it easier to keep our community safe. They did this at significant considerable personal investment of time and resources. Although summer 2020 now may feel like it’s a good distance behind us,  the utility and impact of this group’s efforts still stand out as a “best effort” when it comes to community outreach in COVID-times.

Come Back Better Award

We worked together with our businesses to help them “rethink, rebuild, reopen and recover.” This award will go to the business that best exemplified the spirit of “Come Back Better,” honoring them for their ingenuity, resiliency and Cordova spirit!

  • The winner selected for this award was Kayak Cafe for their efforts to not only stay open, but grow their menu and staff. At the beginning of the pandemic, they offered a walk-up order window, outdoor seating, to-go and delivery. They also brought in other small artist and craftsman quality products that are handmade which helps other small businesses during these difficult times. Always looking for ways to offer unique and engaging specials and activities, Kayak Cafe came up with creative, password-protected seasonal drinks and offered Santa and Harry Potter events which were a highlight for their clientele.
  • The Net Loft was recognized with an Honorable Mention for this award. They have remained customer focused through this pandemic — adjusting the store  hours so customers can shop safely and allowing Cordovans to continue to shop locally. They went online, added bubble appointments, offered live videos, and generally shifted the way they do business during the pandemic. During the times when their store was not able to be open to in-person shopping, their employees scoured their shelves for folks shopping via phone and email, even giving virtual walk-throughs for shoppers via Facetime to find what the customer needs.