Good News

Erika Brown of The Cricket and Ramie Reader of Reader Electrical win 2024 Greater Cape Ann Small Business Person of the Year Awards


This past week the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce held its 44th Annual Small Business Persons of the Year Awards Ceremony honoring local business owners.  Amongst the winners for 2024 were Erika Brown, publisher and editor of the Manchester Cricket, and Ramie Reader, owner and Chief Electrician of Essex’s Reader Electrical.

The awards highlight outstanding local businesses and the people who make them such a valued and appreciated part of our community here on Cape Ann.

Ramie Reader began his company, Reader Electrical, in 1996 and has been helping people on the North Shore ever since.  Reader is a prominent community member in Essex where he is also the Chief of the volunteer Essex Fire Department.

“My grandfather was also the Fire Chief, I always looked up to him and am proud to be following in his footsteps.”  Reader went on to say that he feels lucky and blessed to be able to stay local and have a thriving business.  Being recognized by the Chamber has made Ramie quite proud and reinforces the joy he finds working in his own community.

Ramie was unanimously selected for the Chamber’s honor this year after being asked several times and demurring, said BankGloucester’s Michele French who also heads up the Essex Chamber Division. 

French said Ramie is a dyed-in-the-wool Essex local for whom service runs deep.  His father served as Essex Fire Dept. Chief for decades, and Ramie has followed suit.  He’s the one you call for help in the middle of the night—fire or electrical—said French.  And he’s the one who will always respond.

Other winners included Rockport’s Jack and Cathy Porter of Sandy Bay Service Center, Inc.; Heath and Tom Ellis of Gloucester’s The Schooner Thomas E. Lannon; and John P. Muldoon of The Local News in Ipswich.

In her speech at the ceremony, Erika Brown shared that it was “… amazing to be winning this award with a fellow newspaper publisher.”  She noted that it really speaks to the dedication to community and the importance and relevance of local news.

“When done right it can be incredibly powerful,” explained Brown. 

And she’s right.  Under  Brown’s management, The Cricket has nearly doubled overall paid circulation, including a significant expansion among readers in Essex.  The paper has also launched an online version of the weekly paper and introduced new offerings such as seasonal supplements and a Cape Ann-wide, standalone arts & entertainment publication (and soon-to-be website), Out & About on Cape Ann.

When asked about what she is most proud of, Brown said she’s proudest of how The Cricket team has pulled off modernizing the 135-year-old newspaper without making it unrecognizable to locals who’ve been reading it forever.

The paper has drawn numerous talented local contributors, to include: Jim Behnke, Gwendolyn Berger, Jen Coles, Hannah Harlow, Larry Lamb, Peter Phippen, Mark Stolle and Stella Straub to name a few.  In working with The Cricket, these talented local writers have a sense of this being their place, and their paper, too.

Two weeks ago, a local celebration for Brown took place at Cala’s Restaurant in downtown Manchester.  The space was packed with local business owners, friends, and family all there to celebrate Brown and her team at the paper.  During her acceptance speech Erika highlighted how the paper offers a sense of community.

“No one lives in Manchester or Essex because they’re forced to,” she said.  “People live here because they love this place, they love Cape Ann, and the paper is one of several important local institutions that offers a real sense of belonging.”