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Sudbury’s MIRARCO honoured for entrepreneurial vision

By Kim Wahamaa Hundreds of business and opinion leaders from across the north celebrated the achievements of nine companies and individuals at the 23rd Annual Northern Ontario Business Awards (NOBA) gala Oct. 8.
This year’s Northern Ontario Business Award winners, from left to right, are Louise Thomas, Irina Cividino, Brenda McLay, Rob Frenette, Liana Frenette, Dr. Stephen Hall, Don McBain, Mike Valenti, Michael Dupuis, Frank Valenti, JR Pierman, Jeff Elgin, and Mark Torchia. Hall is president and CEO of MIRARCO Mining Innovation. The Sudbury-based organization won the Entrepreneurial Community of the Year award.

By Kim Wahamaa

Hundreds of business and opinion leaders from across the north celebrated the achievements of nine companies and individuals at the 23rd Annual Northern Ontario Business Awards (NOBA) gala Oct. 8. NOBA has become the largest annual gathering of its kind in northern Ontario since it was first launched in 1986. The event was co-hosted by Sault Ste. Marie Mayor John Rowswell and Northern Ontario Business Publisher Patricia Mills.

Eastlink will air the NOBA Documentary. The NOBA Documentary will premiere on Eastlink Channel 10 on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 23 at 10 p.m., in the following cities: Sudbury, Timmins, Sturgeon Falls, Elliot Lake, Temiskaming Shores, and Kapuskasing.

The 24th Annual Northern Ontario Business Awards 2010 will be held in Thunder Bay on Oct. 7, 2010, at the Victoria Inn. For more information on NOBA 2010, contact Kimberley Wahamaa, event manager at 1-705-673-5705 or 1-800-757-2766 Ext. 320 or email inquiries to

And the winners are:

Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Mark Torchia, President, The Torchia Group, Timmins

Since 1993, Mark Torchia, of Torchia Group, has created a niche in the North by opening 15 restaurants from Bradford to Timmins employing up to 800 people and developing his head office in his home town.

Company of the Year (51+ Employees) Award
TBT Engineering, Thunder Bay

Rob and Liana Frenette embraced change and in the mid 1990s, found themselves proprietors of TBT Engineering, one of the Thunder Bay’s foremost multi-disciplinary engineering firms employing more than 100 people. What’s important to the Frenettes is creating a fun and safety conscious company culture for employees.

First Nations Business Award of Excellence
Ahnisnabae Art Gallery, Thunder Bay

Louise Thomas is no longer the shy women she used to be. She thanks Roy Thomas, her late husband, artist, entrepreneur and painter for her breakthrough. Louise celebrates her late husband’s life with the body of his world renowned work hanging at the Thunder Bay’s Ahnisnabae Art Gallery, located in the James Street mini-mall. As the gallery owner, she has quietly transformed the commercial studio into a cornerstone of the Thunder Bay arts and culture scene.

Innovation Award
Hydro Tech Inc., Sault Ste. Marie

When Michael Dupuis left the comfort of his full time job as a mechanical technologist in 2001 to start Hydro Tech Inc., he could never have imagined he’d be heading up an innovation enterprise that installs products from Niagara Falls to East Africa. The Sault Ste. Marie company designs, manufactures and installs a new kind of thrust bearing system for hydroelectric dams’ core power generators, all over the world.

Judges’ Choice Award
Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services Corp., Sault Ste. Marie

The Ontario Aboriginal Housing Support Services Corporation steps in to find a home, a safe, affordable place to live while people are being treated for diabetes. With 1,600 properties and up to 650 homes to let across Ontario, the not-for-profit organization provides a stable base for the needy, and is gearing up to provide an education program for the youth as well.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Jeff Elgie & JR Pierman, Lucidia Ltd, Sault Ste. Marie

Lucidia Ltd. has been one of the pillars of Sault Ste. Marie’s rapidly maturing and sophisticated IT sector since its inception in 2001. Founders Jeff Elgie and secretary-treasurer, John (J.R.) Pierman grew the company from a simple website builder into a full service firm with creative, graphic design, photography, copywriting, more interactive websites, brochures and product packaging capabilities.

Entrepreneurial Community of the Year Award
MIRARCO Mining Innovation, Sudbury
Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO) has become one of the north’s key economic contributors and a light at the end of the mine tunnel for many companies and workers. “Our mission is to the develop the people and the tools to design the underground mines and facilities of the future,” says Stephen Hall, president and CEO.

Company of the Year (16-50 Employees) Award
Designed Roofing Inc., North Bay

The company specializes in roofing systems by Sarnafil, a Swiss manufacturer with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

Company of the Year (1-15 Employees) Award
Near North Laboratories, North Bay

Out of its North Bay facility, the business handles a broad range of environmental and analytical testing and its exhaustive client list, built up over 20 years, touches upon countless aspects of business and day-to-day life.

Union Gas Student Essay Scholarship
Irina Cividino, Sudbury

In her winning essay entitled “Be the Change,” Irina Cividino promotes a world view through which we can all contribute to Earth’s sustainability. She uses energy efficient light bulbs, doesn’t drive unless necessary and writes on the backs of the pages of her old school notes to save paper. “Maybe one day this world will see humanity and sustainability walking down the street hand in hand,” Cividino says.