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Winners named for the 36th annual Northern Ontario Business Awards

Nine recipients are lauded for excellence in business
The Northern Ontario Business Awards were founded in 1986 as a way to celebrate the outstanding achievements of businesses and entrepreneurs from across the region.

Northern Ontario Business is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Northern Ontario Business Awards (NOBA).

Now in its 36th year, the NOBA program recognizes the entrepreneurs, companies, and organizations whose extraordinary efforts are generating prosperity in the North. Nine recipients will join hundreds of others who have been recognized over the years.

Jeff Elgie, CEO of Village Media, Northern Ontario Business’ parent company, lauded the resilience and ingenuity of the 2022 winners.

“This year’s recipients hail from diverse backgrounds and specialties, but in their goals they are united: provide a service while creating jobs and generating economic activity through the region,” Elgie said.

“We’re grateful for their unique contributions, and we encourage readers to learn more about each of these recipients.”

Abbas Homayed, publisher at Northern Ontario Business, credits Northern Ontario’s thriving business community with making the NOBA program a success.

“This initiative began with the simple idea to highlight Northern Ontario’s brightest business achievements,” Homayed said.

“Nearly four decades later, we’re pleased to see the NOBA legacy continues.”

Submissions have been vetted by a panel of judges that evaluates nominees on their overall business performance and its impact on the North, from customer service and community involvement to human resource management and future planning.

Northern Ontario Business is grateful for the ongoing support of our sponsors, who continue to see the value in recognizing these worthy recipients.

Thank you to: Northern Credit Union, CIBC, Twiggs Coffee Roasters, OLG, Lopes, GINCOR Werx, Algoma University, Ontario Power Generation, the City of Greater Sudbury, and North Bay Plastic Molders.

2022 Northern Ontario Business Award winners:

Company of the Year (1-15 employees): Ne-Daa-Kii-Me-Naan Inc. (Longlac)

Sponsored by: CIBC

Since 2012, Ne-Daa-Kii-Me-Naan Inc. — or Nedaak for short — has demonstrated how the power of collaboration can ensure the stewardship of Northern Ontario forestland, while also creating prosperity for its members. Owned by seven First Nations, Nedaak manages the Kenogami Forest, providing training and employment opportunities for local residents, while also generating economic returns for its member communities. Now celebrating its 10th year of operation, the organization has helped fund school lunch programs, powwows, community events, and youth activities, while also reinvesting into the business to ensure its longevity.

Company of the Year (16-50 employees): Thornloe Cheese (Thornloe)

Sponsored by: Twiggs Coffee Roasters

From a small factory in a small village in Northern Ontario, Thornloe Cheese has been delivering big taste to fans around the province since 1940. The facility produces a range of cheeses, cheese curds, and award-winning, grass-fed butter, all using fresh milk sourced from local farmers. Located off Highway 11, just south of Earlton, the cheesemaker's roadside retail shop has become a popular attraction both for residents and for visitors seeking a tasty souvenir of their travels through the area.

Company of the Year (51+ employees): McDougall Energy Inc. (Sault Ste. Marie)

Sponsored by OLG

When McDougall Energy launched in 1949, the fledgling fuel provider was run out of the home of Allan and Lucy McDougall in the small town of Thessalon. Fast forward to today and the Sault Ste. Marie-headquartered business has expanded to become a major distributor and marketer of heating oil, propane, gasoline, diesel fuel and commercial lubricants, operating in multiple markets across Canada. Still family owned and operated — and now run by the third generation of McDougalls — the company is regularly cited as a best managed company in Canada.

Entrepreneurial Community of the Year: Rural Agri-innovation Network (RAIN) (Sault Ste. Marie)

Sponsored by: Algoma University

Building a strong agriculture and agri-food sector in the North. That’s the sole focus of the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. Among its achievements over the last decade, RAIN has facilitated crop trials in search of new varieties for Algoma farmers to grow; administered the Sustainable New Agri-Food Products and Productivity (SNAPP) Program, to help farmers fund new innovations in their operations; and established Buy Algoma, Buy Local, a regional marketing campaign designed to get more people purchasing from local producers.

Indigenous Business Award of Excellence: Supercom Industries (Thunder Bay)

Sponsored by: Ontario Power Generation

With the April 2022 completion of the 450-kilometre-long East-West Tie transmission line, which runs between Wawa and Thunder Bay, Supercom Industries has connected First Nations residents across northwestern Ontario to the provincial grid for the very first time. The multi-year, multi-million-dollar project, which is 100 per cent First Nation-owned, is one of the largest investments into the Northwest’s electrical infrastructure in decades. Through its tenure, the project trained and employed hundreds of locals, generating economic activity in the region that will ripple through the economy for generations to come.

Innovation: Nadia Mykytczuk, MIRARCO (Sudbury)

Sponsored by: City of Greater Sudbury

Currently the interim president at the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO), Nadia Mykytczuk is considered a global expert on bioleaching and mine remediation. Her work involves the use of tiny microbes to clean up toxic material in mine waste tailings, enabling companies to extract valuable metals from the waste. Mykytczuk now seeks to establish the Centre for Mine Waste Biotechnology, which would serve as a research and commercialization hub to incubate new ideas and attract mine sector companies to Sudbury.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Jamie Oakenfold, Oakenfold Strength & Athletics (Thunder Bay)

Sponsored by: Lopes

Jamie Oakenfold’s personal training career was well established when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many of the gym facilities in and around Thunder Bay. Not content to let the pandemic derail her work, she redirected her efforts toward prenatal and postnatal personal training, recognizing a need in the area for the specialty. Now, through Oakenfold Strength & Athletics, she offers a range of personal training services to help area women maintain or regain their health and fitness before and after pregnancy.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Mylène Coulombe-Gratton, Follow Her North (Hearst)

Sponsored by: GINCOR Werx

Mylène Coulombe-Gratton grew up with a love of the outdoors, so it was a natural decision for her to turn that passion into a business after graduating high school. Through her outdoor adventure company, Follow Her North, Coulombe-Gratton has guided hundreds of clients on canoe and kayak tours, snowmobile rides, hunting excursions, and other experiences through Northern Ontario. Now the young entrepreneur is working on her next challenge: converting an old general store once owned by her great-great-grandfather into a bed and breakfast, with the first guests set to arrive in the new year.

Judges’ Choice: Steinberg & Mahn (Timmins)

Sponsored by: North Bay Plastic Molders Ltd.

The idea of ‘dressing for success’ has had many iterations over the decades, and in Timmins, the Taylor family has seen them all. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, Steinberg & Mahn menswear shop has experienced its share of ups and downs through its 103 years, but one constant has remained: customer service. Despite the continued rise of online shopping, it’s their attention to their customers and community that has made the shop a popular provider of high-quality fashions for men of all generations.

Individual profiles and videos of each of the winners will be featured in the coming weeks on and affiliated Village Media sites.

More information about the Northern Ontario Business Awards program is available by visiting