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The Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce has selected nine nominees for its annual “Business of the Year” awards to honor at its banquet in February.

The chamber took nominations from the public last month in its three categories: Small Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year and Workforce Game Changer. The finalists will be honored at the chamber’s 140th annual banquet on Feb. 7.

First Lutheran Church, Juice Stop and Pearl Academy are the finalists for the small business; Big Red Keno, Charlie Diers Ford Lincoln and Sawyer Construction are the finalists for the large business; and Fremont Electric, Lincoln Premium Poultry and WholeStone Farms are the finalists for the workforce game changer.

The small business of the year must employ 25 people or less, while the large business must employ more than 25. The workforce game changer award will be given to a business that has demonstrated excellence in the workforce.

Chamber Executive Director Tara Lea said that this was an “absolutely amazing” year for the businesses nominated.

“We had almost 50 nominations that came in, so that is a lot for us compared to the last three years I’ve been here,” she said. “So it’s very exciting.”

The finalists were chosen by a committee comprised of executive board members after taking nominations from the public, Lea said.

“It was a very long meeting trying to decide who we were going to choose,” she said. “But we are very fortunate to have so many amazing businesses here in Fremont.”

Lea said she was happy to see nominated businesses that have only been in business for two or three years.

“So that’s nice to see the impact that they’re making only being here a short time,” she said. “And then we’ve got other businesses that have been here forever and ever, and it’s just great to see they’re still making such a strong impact on our community as well.”

Although the awards will be chosen by the committee, the chamber will open about a weeklong vote for the public on its Facebook page sometime next week.

Tickets for the banquet can be purchased online at fremontne.org or by calling 402-721-2641.

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