Take your small business to the next level with the 2016 1Awards

FirstOntario Credit Union has joined forces with the Research & Innovation division of Niagara College, along with several other Niagara community partners for the first annual 1Awards competition.

The awards were created to recognize small businesses by helping them get to the next level.

Winners will share more than $115,000 in cash and in-kind services to help them execute their award-winning plans. Prizes are allocated based on each businesses’ needs.

This exciting opportunity has been a tremendous success in Hamilton — with investments of more than half a million in the small business landscape in its first four years — so FirstOntario has decided to expand into Niagara for the first time.

Niagara partners also include The St. Catharines Standard, Form & Affect, KPMG, Lancaster, Brooks and Welch LLP, The Business Link Niagara and Niagara Region.

To be eligible for the 1Awards, small businesses must have 50 or less employees and have been in business for at least 24 months in the Niagara Region. These businesses must also demonstrate “measureable growth,” such as workforce expansion, innovation and economic impact in their local communities. Eligible candidates must apply before Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Finalist will be announced on May 16 and will present their business plan to a panel on May 26. Winners will be announced at an awards gala on June 9.

Candidates can enter by filling out an application online at www.1Awardsniagara.ca or by visiting FirstOntario locations in Niagara