Even a few years later your article holds relevance, thank you.
Although I agree, that you should not have to pay to receive an award, I think there can be value in being simply being ‘named’, even in one of these types of awards. For instance, these awards often mean your name/brand/co. name go into a registry or directory and can be looked up. It also is not necessary that you purchase, as you are still named the winner in that category and area. You can also use the digital files (like those shown in your article) for promotional purposes. You could make a marketing campaign around your being named to this award and share it. You can even add it to your website perhaps and often these do add value, whether you ever purchase the plaque and/or statue of the award itself.
Albeit, much better to receive a more recognizable business award, I believe these awards can serve a purpose. I think this is especially true for much smaller companies that do not necessarily have the ‘clout’ that other larger brands do or the support that more well-known individuals in a given town are lucky enough to have in that area. Sometimes it really is all about ‘who’ you know.
It would be great if all things were equal and could be judged on its merits, goodwill in the community and other factors that could often boost the awareness of some of these brands. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the world we live and any advantage that can help a company or brand trying to get their name better known still is worth some consideration, wouldn’t you agree?