After a tumultuous year for local businesses, Omaha's entrepreneurs deserve recognition.
Now more than ever, local businesses need support — from familiar clientele and new customers alike. They need "normal."
And starting today, they need your vote.
Voting is now open in the sixth annual Omaha's Choice Awards. Now through April 18, our readers can name their favorite Omaha-area businesses and organizations — from pizza shops to tire stores, health care providers to credit unions and more — in an online ballot.
The contest is a celebration of community, and your votes are the driving force. Vote up to once per day in more than 200 categories at Omaha.com/choice.
This year's winners will be announced on Sunday, June 27.
We asked past winners to describe what being named Omaha's Choice has done for their business. In their words:
5532 Center St.
"It sets us apart," says Rachel Naikelis, office manager for Pyramid Roofing contractors. "It tells our potential customers that we have a positive reputation and are known for taking care of our customers, and it reminds our existing customers that they made a great choice in choosing us to restore their homes."
"There are so many great roofing and siding companies in the Omaha metro area, and to be named one of the best, it is an honor and a privilege.
"To see the community recognizing our hard work — it makes the long days and the hard work all the more worth it," she adds.
Creative Hair Design Salon & Spa
12025 Pacific St.
"It's a great honor to be recognized by the Omaha World-Herald and its readers," says Creative Hair Design owner John Mangiameli.
"Our employees appreciate the recognition from the Omaha community for their skills and expertise over the last 40 years."
The contest has also "assisted our company and other companies with networking and supporting other small business in the Omaha area," he adds.
Rockbrook Village Shopping Center
2800 S. 110th Court
"Winning Omaha's Choice Awards brings awareness to our local and small business owners," says Diane Heyne, marketing director at Rockbrook Village. "It also gives properties credibility in the eyes of prospective tenants."
Winning an award also provides validation for small businesses, she says.
"The award reaffirms the business to existing customers, and opens the door to new customers/clients. Said another way: 'Don't take my word for it — we were named Omaha's Choice for _____!'"
Omaha Animal Medical Group
3316 N. 120th St.
"We appreciate serving our customers, and it is nice to know that they appreciate us as well," says Dr. Rod Van Horn, owner of Omaha Animal Medical Group.
Winning Omaha's Choice has bolstered his veterinary clinic by bringing satisfaction to his employees and by bringing new clients in the door, he says.
"It helps to instill confidence in potential new clients that others have used our services and approve of what we offer."
Absolutely Fresh Seafood Market
1218 S. 119th St.
"Winning the Omaha's Choice Award for Seafood Market was a flattering experience that provided great exposure for our store," says Brian Leimbach, catering, marketing and seafood market manager for Absolutely Fresh Seafood.
"Showcasing the award helps attract new customers as it confirms the opinion that this is the place to go in Omaha for seafood," he adds.
New Cassel Retirement Center
900 N. 90th St.
"I believe that people see the Omaha's Choice Award banner and know that the community believes we are a good and trusted company," says Marilee Lieber, marketing director for New Cassel Retirement Center and Franciscan Adult Day Center. "It has definitely increased top-of-mind awareness."
"I have posted the awards on the front and back entrance doors to our building so all who enter can see, as well as on our marketing materials," she adds.