Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau Announces
Catalina Island Company 2019 Harvey Cowell Business of the Year Winner

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, seven businesses received ten nominations by members of the community.  The nominated businesses were:

  • Bluewater Grill Avalon
  • Café Metropole
  • Catalina Island Company
  • Catalina Island Conservancy
  • Catalina Island Museum
  • Robert Kennedy
  • Vons Grocery Store

A committee of the Board of Directors reviewed the nominations and selected this year’s winner. 

The Catalina Island Company was nominated due to its significant ongoing investment in improvements to the visitor experience, including financial investments of over $24 million the past year for renovations and restorations of hotels and storefronts. Moreover, the Catalina Island Company was nominated for its generous donation of land that will be used in construction of a new Catalina Island Medical Center. The land donation is valued at $4.5 million.

About the Catalina Island Company

For 125 years, the Catalina Island Company has operated visitor-serving enterprises on Catalina Island. In October 1894, the Banning brothers placed title to the Catalina Island holdings they had acquired two years earlier into their newly incorporated Catalina Island Company, and then started building for the future. The Bannings planned to develop the island as a resort, and much of the initial development of Avalon took place during their ownership.

When William Wrigley Jr. acquired a majority interest in the Catalina Island Company from the Bannings in 1919, the destiny of Catalina Island began to change forever. This now-historic event cast the die for the permanent preservation of the majority of the island in its natural state.

Over the next 53 years leading up to the Catalina Island Company’s formation of the Catalina Island Conservancy in 1972, various conservation practices were initiated by the Wrigley-led company, including much-needed animal controls, protection of watersheds and reseeding of overgrazed areas.

Prudent land stewardship and a positive sense of future direction continue to be hallmarks of the Catalina Island Company, whose business philosophies are inexorably linked to high standards established over time by the two families that have controlled and guided the company’s direction and destiny.