Portsmouth NH chamber awards honor business leaders

Portsmouth NH chamber awards honor business leaders

PORTSMOUTH — Back in person after going online last year, the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth’s annual business awards were held outdoors at the landmark salt piles at Granite State Minerals Thursday night as the sun set.

More noticeable next to the raucous celebration tent at 227 Market Street, however, was the high pile of salt, resting beside the city’s premier business bash.

The Chamber Collaborative hosted a business awards bash and benefit, street.life!, outside at Granite State Minerals on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Portsmouth.

Ask Ben VanCamp, president of the chamber, about the salt, and he’ll tell you it was three truckloads worth. The theme of this year’s al fresco Chamber awards, complete with catered delicacies and the jazz stylings of Kittery-based band Bucket List, was an homage to the city’s postcard-worthy working port.

“I happen to love the working port aspects of our community,” he said. “I think it’s nice to know we still have those deep roots in the working ports.”

Dubbed “street.life!,” the Chamber awards featured a number of city leaders, including Mayor Rick Becksted and several members of the City Council, though more notably looked to honor city employees, volunteers, nonprofit leaders and business owners who helped Portsmouth’s economy fight and claw its way out of the depths of the pandemic in the last year.

The Chamber Collaborative hosted a business awards bash and benefit, street.life!, outside at Granite State Minerals on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Portsmouth.

VanCamp credited former Chamber president Valerie Rochon, who retired in June and was also in attendance Thursday evening, for her leadership during a time of crisis. She helped set the stage for the chamber’s return to a face-to-face awards event. 

“I was happy she could be here tonight to see this community that she loves so dearly together again and celebrating together again, and I think it’s been fantastic,” he said.

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Four awards – Volunteer of the Year award, Small But MIGHTY Business of the Year award, Collaborator of the Year award and the Large Business of the Year award – had been revealed online prior to Thursday, two of which had multiple recipients. 

The Chamber Collaborative hosted a business awards bash and benefit, street.life!, outside at Granite State Minerals on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Portsmouth.

The Large Business of the Year award recipients were several medical staples of the greater Seacoast community, honored for their tireless work under extraordinary public health circumstances: Exeter Hospital, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Lonza.

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The esteemed Portsmouth Phoenix Award, given live with individualized remarks from Becksted to each recipient, was given to three figures crucial to keeping the city economy lively and helping shuttered businesses ease back into business.

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