If Portland Buy Local is the city’s cheerleader for independent businesses, the annual Indie Biz Awards are the pep rally.

“This is our annual celebration of what we do all year, spreading the word about the benefits of buying local,” said board treasurer Norm Patry.

Nominations are accepted from the community in nine categories and voting happens online. Winners are announced at the Indie Biz Awards, heightening the suspense for the 300 people who turned out at the free reception Thursday night at Port City Music Hall.

Composting was a hot topic among Indie Biz voters, with awards going to both Garbage to Garden and We Compost It!

“We operate daily out of trucks, but have a headquarters with tours and we’re four years running,” said Juliane McClellan of Garbage to Garden, which received the Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind award. It hasn’t been a bad run for Garbage to Garden, which was named Environmental Hero in 2014.

Composting competitor We Compost It! took the Environmental Hero award this year.

Voters lauded books as well, with Longfellow Books taking the Portland Icon award and Letterpress Books taking the Best-Kept Secret title.

Portland Patisserie was named Best New Business. Performance venue One Longfellow Square was named Creative Crusader. And Portland Food Co-op, one of the food sponsors for the evening, received the Flavor of Portland award.

Standard Baking Co. accepted the Portland Beacon award, with event host Spencer Albee yelling, “Sticky buns forever!”

The Portland Buy Local board presented the Buy Local Champion award to Bill Duggan, the nonprofit’s first president and longtime owner of the recently closed Videoport.

“The Indie Biz awards keep it real,” said Chandra Leister, director of marketing for the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Portland is about a lot of different kinds of businesses. We’re all trying to occupy the same space, and it’s best when we can do it together. The chamber is sponsoring an award this year, and we’re thrilled to be part of such a great event.”

The chamber sponsored the Best Neighborhood award, which voters gave to the West End – setting the stage for some spirited neighborhood voting in 2016, drawing attention to independent business clustered throughout the city.

“Tonight is about highlighting great businesses in town and why people want to live here,” said Elliott Teel, a Portland Buy Local board member.

“It’s a celebration of the nominees as well as all of our members and all of Portland’s locally owned businesses,” said Portland Buy Local ambassador Jenn Thompson, the nonprofit’s sole employee.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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