FirstOntario’s 1Awards seek local businesses with the drive to thrive

FirstOntario Credit Union’s 1Awards program is on the lookout for talented entrepreneurs who are looking to step up their game.

The competition, which recently kicked off its eighth year, is based on backing businesses that make our communities unique. It’s about building relationships and supporting dreams of future success and continuing to put local entrepreneurs in the spotlight with $150,000 – that’s $25,000 in cash and $125,000 in professional in-kind services up for grabs.

FirstOntario recognizes small businesses for playing a vital role in building our communities – they are drivers behind our economy, and their success benefits everyone. In seven years, FirstOntario and 1Awards partners have invested more than $1 million into the local business landscape. Partners include the Hamilton Spectator, Agro Zaffiro LLP, KPMG, Mohawk College, 900 CHML and PLAY.

Applications are now open for those who are looking for a challenge. To be eligible, businesses must have 50 or fewer employees and have been in operation for at least 24 months. Applicants must demonstrate measurable growth, such as workforce expansion, innovation and economic impact in their local communities.

A select group of candidates will be chosen to pitch their innovative ideas to a judging panel in a fun, Dragon’s Den-style setting before the winners are announced at a breakfast gala in May. The prizes are based on the individual business owners’ needs, and the top-level services are provided by the partners who are leading experts in business planning, finance, legal practices, advertising and marketing.

Candidates can enter online at or by visiting FirstOntario locations in Hamilton, Burlington and Oakville. Deadline to apply is Sunday, March 31, 2019. Good luck to all of this year’s applicants!