Local businesses big winners on Genie nightPublished on March 14, 2011


The 31st annual Genie awards were all about honouring the very best in the Canadian film industry.

Blockbuster hits like Barney's Version and Incendies made names for themselves here in Canada and in Hollywood, but the big winner for this year's event is Ottawa and the local businesses that benefit from the glitzy show in the capital.

Ottawa is clearly a smaller city than Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, but being the nation's capital makes it a draw for events like the Genies. Honouring Canadian talent here seems fitting. The economic growth that spins from this event is fantastic. Restaurants, hotels and taxis are the obvious beneficiaries, but so many smaller businesses are gaining opportunities they normally don't receive.

Starfish, a local event planning company, put together the swanky celebrity gift lounge at the chic Arc The Hotel. Presenters and celebrities visited the lounge to pick up their swag bags, valued at $1,200. Many local businesses jumped on the opportunity to gain national exposure.

Shakira Whitton and Colleen Rhedey, proprietors of Little Cakes in Kanata, embraced the chance to showcase their fresh cupcakes and be a part of the lounge. Little Cakes are gaining in popularity, thanks to the energetic owners' commitment to jumping at every opportunity that comes their way. Being able to tweet and talk about the Genies gave them a voice of authority.

Another local business represented in the lounge already enjoys international acclaim, but was a must-have product! The locally invented We-Vibe celebrates the best in sexual health and is one of the fastest-selling adult toys in history! Now that's putting Ottawa on the map! Another local company with a global following is iStyle, a novelty clothing and gift line developed by Janice McDonald, Steven Bleeker and Robert Smith. Their fan base includes Shannon Tweed, who stopped by the lounge to pick up a doggie shirt for a newly acquired rescue dog, and Bruce Greenwood (Barney's Version) took away a baby iStyle shirt.

Jim Watson has seen many changes since his last stint in the mayoral chair. One of the most prominent is the city's commitment to competing to host grand-scale entertainment and sporting events."We just passed our budget and have put (an extra) $2 million into economic development, which includes hosting major events," he said.

Mr. Watson's next conquest includes an attempt to bring the Juno Awards to Ottawa in 2012.

Hosting The Genies showcases both Ottawa and the National Arts Centre as major players in the arts and entertainment industry. For the NAC, it's not about bringing in dollars, says spokesperson Rosemary Thompson.

"It is about being seen as a hip and fun place to be," which in turn will create interest and patronage, she says.

Everyone agrees that Ottawa is ready to tackle major events. It's a city bursting with enthusiasm and the possibilities are great. Starfish Events owner Samantha Moonsammy summed it up best: "Bring it on, we can handle it!"

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