Welcome to The Times Media Company’s Best of the Region for 2020.
When voting began in early March, we couldn't have predicted the changes to business as usual that we have experienced.
Still, thanks to the pluck of local entrepreneurs and dedication of our readers, we are presenting our annual look at the best restaurants, services, places to live and more in the Region.
This year we added an ambitious 40 categories for a total of 176, and we are proud to profile these businesses and providers that you chose in the monthlong voting.
This contest is the culmination of another year of interacting with our readers, telling stories about people and places that make a difference in our communities and championing the local businesses that serve as the backbone of the Region. It's also a testament to the resilience of the Region.
This is a process you, our readers, take seriously, casting 320,282 total votes, up 28% from 2019. That includes an 11% increase in write-in votes.
All this from 36,068 registered users, an increase of 84% from 2019. That speaks to more than the fact that we have been spending a lot more time at home. It expresses the understanding that the Region is poised to rebound from the limitations imposed by the coronavirus.
What accounts for the staying power of Best of the Region? Perhaps it's how we recognize the value of hard work and the chance to applaud businesses that respect our time and resources and consistently exceed our expectations. A Best of the Region nod is not only a well-deserved “thank you” to those who truly care for their customers, but it also reinforces those efforts.
These pages contain a number of first-time winners including Anytime Fitness, Jay Marie Salon & Spa and the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce in addition to stalwarts such as Albert's Diamond Jewelers, Centier Bank and Strack & Van Til that annually dominate their categories. But whether the business is big or small, time-honored or cutting-edge, all have excellence in common.
So on behalf of the Times, I’d like thank the readers who took the time to thoughtfully complete the ballot and offer our congratulations to the winners. Here’s to another year of “the best” in the Region!
(9) updates to this series since Updated