The Harvey Cowell Business of the Year Award is given in honor of Harvey Cowell, one of 15 visionary businessmen who on June 2, 1949 founded the Avalon Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce. Harvey Cowell was the proprietor of Island Pharmacy, was a prominent leader of the Catalina Island business community, served as an Avalon City Council Member and Mayor, and remained active in the community until his death at the age of 98 in March 2011.
The Harvey Cowell Business of the Year Award was established to recognize an extraordinary contribution by a business to the furtherance of tourism to Avalon and Catalina Island.
This year, nine businesses were nominated by members of the Chamber & Visitors Bureau. The nominated businesses were:
- Café Metropole
- Catalina Diving History Exhibit
- Catalina Express
- Catalina Island Museum
- Catalina Laundry
- Catalina Tours
- Joe’s Rent A Boat
- Mountain & Sea Adventures
- Overlook Hall
A committee of the Chamber’s Board of Directors reviewed the nominations and selected this year’s winner.
The Catalina Island Museum was nominated because since opening its new facility in July 2016, it has been host to the world-class exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s work, the first exhibition of Mexican art on Catalina Island highlighting José Guadalupe Posada, French travel posters and photographs by Bunny Yeager. Currently the museum is featuring the first-ever exhibition about the making of the movie Jaws and another about Harry Houdini and the on-island filming of Terror Island, both of which link local history and lore to the subjects on display. Since opening the museum has drawn nearly 200,000 visitors through its doors and brought immeasurable media attention to the Island.