By Marti Mayne – 

CONWAY — The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce has announced the 2015 Annual MWV Business Award winners, who will be honored at an awards luncheon at the 17th annual Business to Business Expo on June 1 at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel. 
The chamber annually calls for nominations and then recognizes Employer of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Non-profit Organization of the Year, Student Entrepreneur of the Year and Sustainable Business of the Year. Each winner will receive a plaque and a Governor’s Citation. This year, the chamber is honored to also celebrate Steve Eastman’s legacy with the Steve Eastman Community Spirit Award.
Tickets are available to attend the luncheon and honor winners. Before and after, employees are welcome to attend workshops to learn more about technology, service and resources in the valley.
The Entrepreneur of the Year this year is Brian Charles, owner of North Conway Music Center. Offering a large variety of new and used retail items plus an array of learning and playing opportunities, Brian Charles has grown the North Conway Music Center from its original 300 square foot space to a 4000 square foot location with eight staff members and twelve teachers.  The new Academy reaches out into the community and provides wonderful opportunities for musicians to gather and learn together.  The weekly free clinics, charity events, ensembles and “swap” opportunities are just a few examples of the community outreach demonstrated by the North Conway Music Center.
The Employer of the Year Award is given each year to a business that demonstrates respect for employees and other business partners and excellence in creating a safe and inviting workplace. The Employer of the Year is also a business offering solid pay/benefits and the opportunity for training and advancement. 
This year, the Employer of the Year Award is awarded to Michael Kline and Sal Martignetti of Soyfire Candle. Offering a culture of respect and involvement of employees, Michael and Sal have created a high-engagement culture where advancement and eventual store ownership has always been a priority.
The Non-Profit of the Year this year is the Mount Washington Valley Habitat for Humanity. Since 1994, MWV Habitat has addressed the affordable housing shortage in the area, remodeling four and completing 12 new homes, with four more in the works. This has resulted in providing stable, safe and affordable living conditions to 31 adults and 48 children. Using privately donated funds, MWV Habitat has invested $1.9 million (excluding volunteer labor) with a market value of $2.5 million. 
The Sustainable Business of the Year Award, chosen by the Mount Washington Valley Green Team, this year is given to Memorial HospitalBy switching to a new form of renewable biofuel, the hospital has reduced its greenhouse gases from heating fuels by 85 percent and total emissions by about 75 percent. In the first phase of converting all lighting to LED, the hospital has realized a reduction of 62,000 kilowatt hours and an energy savings of $8,000.
The Student Entrepreneur of the Year is Hayden Cyr, who has taken his welding, automotive and machine tools class knowledge and put it to work in his own mobile service repair company, HJC Mobil Diesel & Welding Repair. Growing up in his father’s construction and snow/ice removal company, Hayden saw firsthand how important equipment maintenance can be. Knowing that moving equipment off-site is expensive, Hayden created a company that brings the service to the fleet, saving time and money. He’s hoping to soon add big rig and fleet repair parts to his operation.
Working with family members of the late Steve Eastman, the MWVCC adds the Steve Eastman Community Spirit Award. Created to honor of the late Steve Eastman, former MWVCC board member, longtime community leader and former Mountain Ear newspaper publisher and editor, this award recognizes a a strong community leader. As the founding publisher and editor of The Mountain Ear, Steve’s business life personified what it means to give back to the community. His mantra, expressed beautifully at a memorial rock in his honor at the top of North Conway’s Steve Eastman Memorial Field at Hog Coliseum, was “Love everyone, hold no grudges, and good deeds do count.”
The Steve Eastman Community Spirit Award will be given annually to the person who personifies Steve’s passion and zest for life, for helping the community and for carrying on Steve’s love for the Mount Washington Valley.
This year’s Steve Eastman Award recipient is Ben Wilcox, president and general manager of Cranmore Mountain Resort. A University of New Hampshire graduate, Ben worked as an intern with Cindy Russell at Arts Jubilee, in marketing at Attitash Mountain Resort from 1988 to 1993 and in marketing and management at Bretton Woods from 1993-2004. He came to Cranmore as general manager in 2004. When Booth Creek sold Cranmore in June 2010 to the Fairbank Group, the new owners retained Ben, giving him the additional title of president.
“Ben very much personifies the community ideals and commitment to Mount Washington Valley that Steve exemplified throughout his years as publisher and editor of the Mountain Ear. If it was good for the community, Steve was all for it, and that’s a passion that Ben has shared throughout his career. We congratulate him on this honor,” said Tom Eastman, former assistant editor at the Mountain Ear, and a member of the staff of The Conway Daily Sun for the past eight years as a reporter and as co-editor of the paper’s North Conway Magazine and Steve Eastman’s younger brother.
For information about these awards and nominees, contact Melody Nester, assistant director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at (603) 356-5701, ext 302.