Not just another contest

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Maybe itís not the Super Bowl, but Best of North Idaho is a championship game for hundreds of local businesses.

Win and rejoice. Lose and worry about the future.

Wait just a second: This is not yet one more pitch to get you to go to cdapress.com/best of and nominate your favorite businesses. Although you can if you want to.

No, this is a commentary based on a comment made recently by multiple Best of North Idaho winner Scott Ansel, who owns Northwest Pet Resort in Coeur díAlene. Ansel was talking about the many diverse enterprises striving for business excellence when he said, ďThis helps bring our community together. Itís a rope with many strands that we feel very blessed to be part of.Ē

Letís face it: Today, itís difficult to find a local business that isnít threatened in some way by the internet. While Ansel might be the first to tell you that his niche, taking good care of your pooch while you hit the road, isnít likely to be subverted by any dot-com, heís the exception rather than the rule. The newspaper youíre reading has lost hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars to the internet, from big customers to small. Kmart and Sears couldnít stack up against Amazon.com and Walmart.com. Even Paul Banducci, the young owner of Bulldog Pipe & Cigar Co. in the Silver Lake Mall, has an internet fight on his hands. Paul has to pay Idaho a 40 percent excise tax on his stogies, whether he actually sells them or not. Even when you provide great products and great customer service, as Banducci does, itís tough enough to compete against the ease of internet transactions, let alone fight when the state ties one of your hands behind your back.

What we love about Best of North Idaho is that which Scott Ansel enunciated so well: By competing against each other, local businesses make each other better. Our beautiful little community of small businesses will flourish only by giving customers plenty of reasons to choose their local products and services, rather than those offered by cyberspace giants who donít support our Little League teams, pay for our school bonds or our police officers.

Excellence is the only path to survival for many of your favorite local businesses. Recognizing and promoting that excellence is a critical part of the survival equation.

So when The Press or North Idaho Business Journal asks you to nominate (nominations end Monday at midnight) or vote for (voting runs from Feb. 11 through Feb. 17) your favorite local businesses, certainly, part of the reason is to generate revenue for the publications and some excitement for the readers. But thereís actually a lot more at stake.

The communityís quality of life, for one.

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