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Opinion: What a year!

What a year!

I continued to be amazed and inspired by the resiliency of local business owners and their employees.

Each one of this year’s Best of North Atlanta award winners had every excuse to call it quits last year and blame the pandemic. Everyone would understand.

But from what I have witnessed, very few did, and almost all of them made the necessary and often difficult decisions to do what had to be done to keep the lights on and doors open.

At Appen Media, we were proud to cover many of those stories of determination in our weekly newspapers. We knew that our readers needed some good news, and local businesses deserved the recognition.

Like restaurants, who were forced to close their dining room doors for a time and offer takeout and delivery options only, whether that was a part of their traditional business model or not.

Or all the winners in our medical categories, who were either overwhelmed overnight or unable to see patients at all. Many adapted to technologies that would allow them to see patients over Zoom.

Or retail businesses that created online stores, often when one had not existed previously, so that they could stay connected with their customers.

Whatever the adjustment, local businesses made them. And with the end of the pandemic on the horizon I’d offer that we may even be better for it, too. One of the biggest reasons North Atlanta is such a special place is the diversity and strength of its business community. That was never clearer to me than last year.

Along those lines, our Best of North Atlanta contest continues to get more and more competitive. Despite the difficulties of 2020/2021, new businesses continued to enter the market and our audience and number of people voting continued to increase.

This year, after 100,000 people voted in more than 100 categories, we once again have a list of award-winning businesses North Atlanta can be proud of!

Congratulations to all winners and nominees. We are honored to put this contest together every year, but this one was special.

Reach Hans Appen at 770-847-7205. Follow him on Twitter @hansappen.