The One SouthCoast Chamber is pleased to recognize the significant contributions and achievements of our region’s businesses with the presentation of the 2019 APEX Awards in the categories of Small Business, Large Business, Non-Profit and Educational Institution. The awards ceremony this past Tuesday was an evening cocktail occasion held at Century House in Acushnet.

With over 30 nominees this year, the painstaking task of narrowing down one of the largest turnouts to date was no easy one. Each nominee has played a unique role within the community and contributed to the economic development of the SouthCoast.


Presented with the Large Business of the Year award was Poyant Signs.

For over 80 years, Poyant Signs has maintained a desire to help customers build their business with high quality products by collaborating with local, regional and national companies to help achieve their clients’ goals.

A third generation family business Poyant Signs shows consistent growth in all areas of the organization including their employment, which recently increased their workforce from 58 to 72.

The majority of these employees are hired from local vocational high schools and colleges.   As a pioneer in innovation, Poyant is constantly updating their equipment and business strategies capitalizing on modern technology.

Poyant is committed to the SouthCoast and heavily involved with local organizations and community events including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the United Way, the New Bedford Military Museum, the New Bedford Girls Softball League, Chowder Festival and the Taste of Southcoast.

The nominees for this year’s Large Business of the Year award included Eastern Bank, Plumbers Supply Co., Vibra Hospital of Southeastern Massachusetts, Toyota of Dartmouth/Check Collision, The Standard-Times, SouthCoast Behavioral Health, Couto Construction and finalists First Citizens Federal Credit Union and Lafrance Hospitality.

Presented with the Small Business of the Year award was Buzzards Bay Brewery Inc.

Buzzards Bay Brewing has been a major player in the local brewing industry for more than twenty years.

The main mission of Buzzard Bay Brewery is to not to just sell beer, but rather to work side by side with local brewers to build a vibrant craft beer community that will prosper and recirculate resources into the local economy.

The early decision to focus on local consumers and retailers has been the key to their success for the past two decades and allowed the local craft beer industry to succeed.

Buzzards Bay Brewing continuously strives to gather people to enjoy life experiences together.  Heavily invested in the community they have significant relationships with The Zeiterion Theatre, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the Pink Boots Society and are strong advocates for Women in the Brewing Industry.

The nominees for year’s Small Business of the Year award included Best Western Dartmouth Inn, Primerica, Hannah Grace Beyoutiful, Spectrum Marketing Group, Diversified Marketing Group, Capital House Media, Simply Sierra Jewelry, U.S. Party Supply, Couto Construction, Alferes Realty, Mid City Steel and finalists Servpro of New Bedford and Precision Window and Kitchen, Inc.

The Non-Profit of the Year sponsored by First Citizens Federal Credit Union was presented to YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts

The YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts works towards the elimination of racism, the empowerment of women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

With a diverse workforce of more than 20 employees ranging from high school students to personnel over 60, they represent and easily communicate with multiple demographics.

Under their current Leadership, the YWCA has completed a $4.5 million campaign to build a 6,550 square foot addition specifically for a school age childcare program and to provide 8 full units of housing for low-income women.

The YWCA serves over 4,000 local residents annually and offers programming in Adult, Youth and Residential services as well as Health and wellness.

Currently the YWCA’s strategic plan focuses on increasing development, communications and branding while expanding programs and services throughout the SouthCoast.

The nominees for this year’s Non-Profit of the Year award included Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of New Bedford Inc., Realtor Association of Southeastern Massachusetts, Coastal Foodshed, MoLife Inc., PACE and finalists Greater New Bedford Community Health and Leadership SouthCoast.

Presented with the Educational Institution of the Year award was Alma del Mar Charter School

Founded in 2011, Alma del Mar’s mission is to put every child on a path to college, while challenging them to be service-minded leaders.

With hundreds of children on the waiting list and more than 10% of the city’s kindergarteners applying for enrollment, Alma del Mar has seen a demand for expansion.

This demand led to the construction of a two-story school in the North End of New Bedford.  Recently, Alma was approved to open a first-of-its-kind neighborhood-based enrollment Commonwealth Charter school.

This innovative model which works in partnership with the City of New Bedford and New Bedford Public Schools will serve 450 young scholars from grades K-8 by 2022.

Alma del Mar’s result have been amongst the highest in the state and their teachers and administration continue to lead by example encouraging their scholars to excel academically and become contributing member of society through civic engagement.

The nominees for this year’s Educational Institution of the Year award included Lesley University, Nativity Preparatory School New Bedford with finalists Rob Roy Academy and Old Colony Regional Vocational High School.