Entries were assessed by a panel of independent judges, who followed a rigorous assessment of written entries and virtual interviews, deciding upon a total of 72 finalists across 11 award categories.
Adam Zarth, executive director of the Illawarra Business Chamber, said that the 2020 awards program had attracted a record number of entrants and that the standard of submissions was particularly high despite the tough business conditions facing our business community.
"We've received an overwhelming response to this year's awards, and I'll take this opportunity to congratulate everybody who entered and particularly our finalists on their strong submissions," Mr Zarth said.
"Our finalists are a great cross-section of businesses, ranging from sole traders to large employers, and reflect a wide range of industries across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands.
"We'd like to congratulate all entrants, particularly the 72 finalists. Special recognition is due to our auditor of judges, Warwick Shanks, who again oversaw a highly rigorous judging process."
While the Shoalhaven's own Business Awards had been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, president of the Shoalhaven Business Chamber, Jemma Tribe, encouraged her members to enter the 2020 Illawarra Business Awards program and get the recognition they deserve.
Mr Zarth welcomed Shoalhaven entrants.
"The 2020 IMB Bank Illawarra Business Awards are open to businesses across the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands as well as the Illawarra, and given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 lockdown this year, it was more important than ever that we celebrate the resilience, strength and adaptability of our business community," he said.
Categories recognise the achievements of business across a wide range of areas including innovation and adaptability, workplace culture, sustainability, customer service, import and export, digital service delivery and resilience, as well as the inspirational employees and business leaders.
While COVID has severely disrupted many businesses across the region, they are celebrating resilience.
See nswbusinesschamber.com.au for NSW Business Chamber details.
Standing by the awards again
CEO Robert Ryan of IMB Bank said, "It has been a challenging year for business.
"In NSW, the bushfires and COVID have hit many communities that IMB calls home.
"The Illawarra Business Chamber's advocacy and support for businesses in the Illawarra is outstanding.
"Also recognising businesses from the Shoalhaven, where awards have been cancelled, is a welcome addition to the 2020 IMB Bank Illawarra Business Awards.
"At IMB, we celebrated 140 years of business in April 2020, which makes us one of the most enduring financial institutions in the country.
"Through the years, we have stood by all of our customers and look forward to celebrating the resilience and success of this year's nominees.
"Good luck, everyone."
For more information about IMB Bank's services, see imb.com.au