Although its hard to tell weather spring is in the air or not with erratic weather the past few weeks, one thing we know for sure is Burlington is Blooming--at least with the upcoming annual Burlington Business Association Dinner, the organizations biggest event of the year and this years event theme. The BBA will celebrate spring at their 29th Annual Dinner on Thursday evening, April 19, at the Wyndham Burlington Hotel. Featured guests include Governor Jim Douglas and Mayor Bob Kiss, and the highlight of the evening is the presentation of this years BBA awards. We're very proud of the winners of this year's awards, said BBA Executive Director Nancy Wood. The winners are, namely, Joseph L. Boutin, recently retired president and CEO of Merchants Bank, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and the Burlington International Airport. Nathan Harris Award Boutin will be honored with the 2007 Nathan Harris Award, which recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to the economic vitality of Burlington. The award, established in 1979, is named in memory of Nate Harris, a founding member of BBA and owner of Nates Mens Clothiers. Boutin served as Merchants Banks president and CEO for 12 years, and prior to that he worked for Howard Bank/Banknorth for 25 years, which included his service as president of that organization. In addition to his career in banking and investment decisions that have contributed to the vitality of Burlingtons downtown, Boutins community oriented contributions have, too, been lengthy. Merchants Bank employees, inspired by his example, have participated in numerous non-profit activities and organizations within Burlington's core and Old North End including sponsorship of and hands on participation for several years in the Citys annual Green Up Day event. According to Tom Leavitt, executive vice president for Community Banking and Trust, Joe set up the culture and provided the encouragement for community service among all Merchants Bank employees. The Hertzel Pasackow Award The Burlington International Airport is this years recipient of the Hertzel Pasackow Award, for their significant contribution to the physical or architectural quality of Burlington, specifically for the airports three-part expansion project that takes the international facility to the next level. The award was established in 1986 in memory of Hertzel Pasackow, owner of the Mayfair on upper Church Street, and founding member of both BBA and the Church Street Marketplace Commission. Brian Searles, Director of Aviation at the airport, will accept this years award. Also recognized will be Freeman French Freeman, the architectural firm that designed the major additions and renovations that define the new airport. The new three-part expansion to the States largest passenger airport terminal complex reflects Burlingtons commitment to provide a state-of-the-art transportation facility to accommodate the citys growing travel demands. The project has fulfilled the need for expanded passenger waiting and baggage claim areas, heightened security requirements, and increasing demand for aircraft and vehicular parking. Primary building components include an expanded two level terminal facility, a multi-story parking structure, and an elevated climate-controlled pedestrian walkway to connect the two. The project was constructed in phases allowing each component to function independently as it was completed. The renovations with 17,000 square feet of new construction, and a 4,500 square foot renovation, has an estimated cost of $17 million. The Burlington Business Award This years recipient of the Burlington Business Award, for exemplary business practices, promotion of a positive image for Burlington, and business success, is Lake Champlain Chocolates. The award, which was originally established as the Small Business Award in 2002, will be accepted by founding owner Jim Lampman. What began as The Great Truffle Experiment at the Ice House restaurant has turned into a booming chocolate business after Lake Champlain chocolates was first founded in 1983. The company has diversified its product line to include four Chocolates of Vermont made in original hand-carved molds, hot chocolate, almond butter crunch, Small World truffles, Obsessions gift boxes, other artisan chocolates and ice cream. Lake Champlain Chocolates sells to specialty food shops, gift shops, and natural food stores. The Pine Street factory attracts residents and tourists who can watch the chocolatiers at work and enjoy the many treats, and a retail store on the Church Street Marketplace draws in crowds for chocolates and ice cream. Kudos to the business in the last few months include Newsweeks recommendation of Lake Champlain All-Natural Traditional hot chocolate and NPRs raving about the giant Valentine Chocolate Heart: "So creamy it's almost perverse!" LCC has also been recognized for their commitment to the environment. An article in the Wall Street Journal in January included mention of the new LEEDS certified packaging-and-distribution warehouse at 444 Pine Street that vastly exceeds energy-efficiency standards of the Burlington Electric Department. Lake Champlain Chocolates has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community as well, through of the Flynn Center for Performing Arts, the Mozart Festival, Burlington Discover Jazz Festival and the United Way. Much to the delight of everyone, they also support local nonprofit community organizations with donations of their wonderful chocolates. The public is invited to attend the BBA Annual Dinner to celebrate and applaud these significant contributors to the economic vitality of Burlington. The dinner will be held at the Wyndham Hotel from 5:30 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 19. Tickets are $60 per person, and may be reserved by calling 863-1175. For more information visit the BBA website: www.bbavt.org.