This award is presented to a small business in Elgin County or St. Thomas that has overcome life transitional challenges while starting or running their existing business.
Bilal Khalife came to Canada from Lebanon in 2015 with his wife and 3 young children. He envisioned starting a business and creating positive economic impact in the city that welcomed him and he met with the SBEC in early 2016. After researching and exploring different entrepreneurial opportunities, connecting with other entrepreneurs and creating a support network, he opened a restaurant in Elgin Mall in September 2016 and hired 3 employees. Within 6 months he opened his second restaurant and was on a personal mission to help revitalize the Elgin Mall. Although there have been changes to his original model, business is thriving and he has 4 employees. In the last year, Bilal has overcome the start of 2 businesses, tough decisions related to his businesses and a death that devastated his family. With his incredible attitude and ability to persevere, Bilal continues to look for ways to positively impact the St. Thomas economy. With a partner, Laura Crocker, Bilal recently opened Galleria 916 in the Elgin Mall. 916 Galleria features a handpicked selection of eclectic, lively, personalized hand crafted quality pieces within a warm, modern and inviting retail environment. This retail store provides a location for local crafters and artisans to retail their products. Congrats Bilal on your successes through challenging times.