Three-time finalist

Tyler Robson, CEO of cannabis oil extraction company Valens GroWorks, is a finalist for young entrepreneur of the year, and also in the large business and marketing campaign of the year categories.

The list of finalists for this year’s Kelowna Business Excellence Awards is proof marijuana has hit the mainstream and become an economic powerhouse.

Cannabis oil extraction company Valens GroWorks and extraction equipment manufacturer Vitalis are both finalists in the large business of the year category for companies with 51 or more employees.

Valens CEO Tyler Robson is one of three finalists in the running for young entrepreneur of the year, a category that recognizes an exceptional businessperson under the age of 40.

And Valens is also a finalist in the marketing campaign of the year category for its Cannabis Transformed branding touting pure, quality medical and recreational products to the world.

Robson was also ranked No. 43 on the 2019 list of the top 50 most influential marijuana executives by CannaChief.ca, a legal pot news site and consulting firm.

On that same list, Vinay Tolia, CEO of Kelowna-based grower Flowr, was No. 40 and Vitalis chairman Joel Sherlock was No. 50.

The Okanagan has become a cannabis hotspot with four big pot production companies — Flowr, Doja, THC BioMed and TrueLeaf — cannabis oil extraction

companies Valens and MediPharm and extraction equipment manufacturer Vitalis.

Last year, Vitalis won the trophy for technology innovator of the year at the Business Excellence Awards.

“This year’s theme marks a broader look at where we are as a community,” said Nikki Csek, president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the Business Excellence Awards.

“Kelowna is more than a big player in the region and in the province. National and international companies are setting up shop here and local businesses are

expanding their reach across the world.”

Almost 300 businesses were nominated for the three finalist spots in a dozen categories.

Winners will be announced at the awards gala Nov. 1 at the Delta Grand

hotel. Tickets are $170 at KelownaChamber.org.

The business leader of the year will be announced a couple of weeks prior to the gala and will be recognized at the award ceremony.

2018’s business leader of the year was Dale Wentworth of Wentworth Music.

Kelowna business award nominees are:

Large business (51-plus employees)

Boyd Autobody & Glass

Valens GroWorks

Vitalis Extraction Technology

2018 winner: Strategic Aviation Services

Mid-sized business (16-50 employees)

Blair Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Hergott Law

SweetLegs Clothing

2018 winner: Highstreet Ventures

Small business (four to 15 employees)

Peacock Sheridan Group

Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

Hampton Pools & Landscape

2018 winner: Faction Projects

Micro business (one to three employees)

Sherpa Group Events

Serviss Wealth Management

Galleria Fashions

2018 winner: Hatch Interior Design

Rising star (for a business less than three years old)

Thick as Thieves Entertainment

Park Pacific Projects

Cannary Packaging

2018 winner: Start Fresh Kitchen

Technology innovator

Agents of Discovery

Hybrid Elevator

Perfit Dental Solutions

2018 winner: Vitalis Extraction Technology

Marketing campaign of the year

Predator Ridge Golf Resort

Sayvee Creative

Valens GroWorks

2018 winner: SK Form & Finish

Young entrepreneur (under age 40)

Ranjit Takhar, Evergreen Building Maintenance

Cassidy deVeer, 3rd Generation Homes

Tyler Robson, Valens GroWorks

new category for 2019

Excellence in tourism

Kelowna Concierge

Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

Volcanic Hills Winery

new category for 2019

Social leadership by a for-profit business

Kot Auto Group (Kelowna Hyundai and Buy Direct Truck Centre)

Coast Capital Savings

Boyd Autobody & Glass

2018 winner: Refresh Financial

Arts and entertainment achievement

Kelowna Museums

Kelowna PrideStudio9 Independent School of the Arts

2018 winner: New Vintage Theatre

Not-for-profit excellence

SPCA Kelowna

Central Okanagan Community Food Bank

Society of Hope

2018 winner: Kelowna Community Resources