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Steve Orr, Diana Roman and Glenn Wagner have been nominated for the William (Bill) Swinimer Business Leader of the Year Award

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times

Business leaders aren’t just successful business owners; they also have strong community ties.

The three nominees for the 16th William (Bill) Swinimer Business Leader of the Year Award have been selected based on their ability to give through their businesses and outside them, said Betsy Gross, chair of the award committee.

“What can I say about these three nominees? They’re amazing,” she said, talking about Glenn Wagner, owner of Wagner Lawn Care, Diana Roman, a real-estate agent who is also the owner of Tech City Centre and Lake Country Grill, and Steve Orr, owner of Dapper Depot Menswear in downtown Orillia.

“I think Orillia runs on small businesses,” said Gross. “You can encourage big industries to come, but it’s the small industries that employ people and support the community. This is just one way of showing they’re important.”

But there’s more to these nominees than their ownership of local businesses, said Gross. They’re involved in community activities aside from having businesses locally.

Wagner, also board chair for the Lighthouse Shelter and Soup Kitchen, has been instrumental in pushing for fundraising for the new shelter. But for him, it’s not about the accolades; rather, it’s the impact of the work that makes a difference.

“I think you feel a pleasure by doing what you believe is right,” he said. “I don’t think this (award nomination) is the motivating factor behind it, but it’s humbling, because you see the work and efforts you’ve put in recognized and that gives me more gratification.”

Talking about past winners including Gini Stringer, Doug Downey, Sarah Valiquette-Thompson and Ian Thompson, Karen Koprla and last year’s winner, Tony Katarynych, Wagner said, “Each of those people have done and continue to do wonderful things for the city. And it’s part of the honour, being nominated with those people.”

Wagner also runs the spring and fall business shows at the curling club, added Gross.

Fellow nominee Roman, who expanded her business from Honey Harbour to Orillia four years ago, said even though she is new to the area, this nomination shows the community is paying attention.

“I’m very excited and honoured and was beside myself when I found out,” she said. “I have had wonderful support from the community. In fact, they’re out there promoting me all the time. They tell me they’re telling everyone about our restaurant and Tech City Centre. It’s all word-of-mouth.”

Through her business ventures, said Roman, she is happy to give employment to people and makes sure she treats all her employees with respect and gives them a good place to work.

“I want a good quality of life for myself and the only way I can do that is by giving the same to my employees and those around me,” she said.

Every year Roman helps host at her restaurant the CIBC toy drive, said Gross, and she is also a supporter of the doctor’s recruitment drive.

Downtown business owner Steve Orr, who has been running the clothing retail store on Mississaga Street for the last 19 years, said he was shocked to find out he had been nominated.

“I don’t know if I’m worthy of such a nomination,” he said, humbled by the experience. “It’s kind of surprising, (as) there are a lot of people in the community that do a lot of good work.”

Orr’s involvement in the community through the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, as a volunteer at the Orillia Youth Centre and as a model for the Canadian Cancer Society annual fundraiser makes him a befitting nominee, said Gross.

“I try to give back to the community as much as I can,” said Orr. “I enjoy giving back to where I live. When I look at some of the names that have been for this award, I don’t know if I’m in the same category, but it’s an honour.”

The business leader will be announced at an awards dinner to be held at Hawk Ridge Golf & Country Club on April 11. Tickets for the event are available at $45 per person and proceeds of the evening will be donated to Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Gross at 705-259-2253 or email at betsyg@rogers.com.

mshahid@postmedia.com

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