AUGUSTA — When the members of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce gather for the Kenney Awards on Jan. 27, they’ll have some work to do.

This year, for the first time ever, members will be asked to choose the winners of three award categories through live text voting.

This is the latest in a series of innovations to the annual chamber dinner that honors achievement among its members.

Last year, the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce opted to announce its Small Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards as it always has before the annual banquet. As part of generating more excitement for its January event, and in addition to suggesting formal attire, the chamber renamed the event the Kenney Awards and saved announcing the winners of the Cynergy Young Professional, Community Service and President’s Choice awards for the night of the event.

Eric Jermyn, who served as the chairman of the chamber’s board of directors in 2016, said in December that the chamber’s staff had done an amazing job in putting the event together.

“They know the community is excited by the Kenneys and how important an event it is for the chamber,” Jermyn said.

These are the nominees in the three live-voting categories:


• Maine Technology Group offers technology services to its clients, taking advantage of technological solutions to help them improve efficiency and productivity and cutting costs. Started by Scott MacDonald and two others in 2011, the company outgrew its first office within a year and moved to the former Whipper’s Pizza building in Winslow. Through that time, the company has developed a reputation for excellent customer service.

• Premier Marketing Group grew from an enterprise that in 1981 rented portable signs for small business to a marketing company that now has eight employees and serves the needs of a wide range of clients both locally and nationally with a variety of customizable products. The first of its big deals came in the mid-1990s, when with new partners Rick Dosedlo and Greg Farris, the company secured the contract for the 1994 WIC 20th anniversary celebration products.

• Snow Pond Center for the Arts, with roots that reach back 80 years to the New England Music Camp, has grown into a music and performing arts education center. With Executive Director John Wiggin, the organization made the shift from a summer program to a year-round music education enterprise through the Snow Pond Community Music School. It also developed introductory programs in music at its own facility and at locations throughout central Maine to broaden its reach. In 2016, the Snow Pond Arts Academy opened in Sidney with 110 students.


• Darek Grant, the Ward 2 Augusta city councilor and a legislative aide in the Maine Senate Democratic Office, with the support of his family, has volunteered for a number of community organizations, particularly those that focus on children’s development, animal welfare and hunger. Grant, who grew up in Augusta, was influenced by his grandfather’s ability to have a good relationship with everyone he met.

• Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, which started as a dropout prevention program more than two decades ago, is a public-private partnership that works to give Maine students the skills they need to succeed in school, in college and in the workforce, including financial literacy, college transition skills and community service learning. Last year in the Kennebec Valley, 660 students in nine schools performed 3,200 hours of community service and raised $12,000 for nonprofit organizations in their communities.

• Margaritas restaurant is the site of many fundraisers, and in 2016, the restaurant team raised more than $8,000 in donations that were given to 20 nonprofit organizations and schools. In addition to fundraising events, Margaritas has a visiting artist program that brings in an artist from Mexico to give demonstrations at area schools and restaurants as part of the company’s education outreach program.


• Chelsea Moeller, now director in MaineGeneral’s Office of Philanthropy, came to Maine initially for a year of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer service and stayed for a decade. She started working at MaineGeneral in 2007 in event planning. Following a successful campaign to raise funds to build the Alfond Center for Health, Moeller went back to her native Missouri, then returned to Maine. She said she sees her job as more than just work and her community as more than just a place to live. Moeller credits the influence of her mother, who taught her to value and help others.

• Mathew Tardiff, a certified public accountant, spends his days managing the accounting department of his family’s business, J.S. McCarthy Printers, and his free time serving a number of community organizations across the Kennebec Valley region. He said he learned the value of hard work from his parents, Rick and Patty Tardiff, as well as the value of making contributions to the community that supports him. In addition to serving on the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce board, Tardiff is on the boards of Cynergy, the Augusta Boys and Girls Club and MaineGeneral Medical Center; and he supports many other causes.

• Chris Voynik came to the business world while still a student at Maranacook High School in Readfield, when he started selling energy drinks from his locker. While earning his business management degree at Thomas College, Voynik revitalized the college’s Entrepreneur Club while building his first business, Wag Rags, which makes durable dog toys from recycled T-shirts. His latest venture is an iOS app called e-Clp that allows users with multiple social media profiles to connect across all platforms using Apple’s Airdrop Technology.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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