After a difficult two years the 27th annual IMB Bank Illlawarra Business Awards took on a slightly different look on Friday.
In a break from tradition the ceremony has been restricted to 380 people due to social distancing restrictions.
And recognising how the Illawarra economy has been impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic the judging panel of 28 people chose to recognise an organisation that has contributed to the entire region as the 2021 business of the year.
The Port Authority of NSW was awarded the top business going after taking out the excellence in business category earlier in the evening.
In the citation for best overall business the judges noted how it's Port Kembla operations connected Illawarra industries with the world and drove the region's economy, supported local businesses and delivered prosperity to the region and NSW during COVID-19.
"Over the past 12 months, they have ensured that Port Kembla remained safe, secure and open to the world during the pandemic, adapting quickly and creatively to implement a range of additional measures to protect the community, local industries and staff without compromising efficiency."
Port Kembla delivers $543 million in gross regional product to the NSW economy each year, handles 100 per cent of NSW motor vehicle imports and supports thousands of jobs. As an international trade gateway for bulk agricultural, construction and mining industries it is home to the state's largest grain export terminal and is second largest coal export port.
Port Kembla has also been approved by the NSW Government as the site of the state's next container terminal once Port Botany nears capacity.
In the individual award categories Housing Trust chief executive Michele Adair was named Illawarra's outstanding business leader for 2021. Susan Finn, of Burnetts on Barney, took out the award for outstanding employee. And Kylie Flament, of Green Connect, was outstanding young business leader with Elspeth Finney, of Shoalhaven Family Law being highly commended.
Other winners were All Care Health Services Group, Easy Agile, Business Valuations Online, Tiny Tins, His Boy Elroy, Green Connect, Cupitt's Estate, Silos Estate, Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra, Warrigal and Wollongong Foot and Ankle Centre.
Business Illawarra executive director Adam Zarth said it was more important than ever this year to recognise inspiring businesses who found new and innovative opportunities to flourish, despite the challenges of the global pandemic and related lockdowns.
"Our winners tonight are an exceptional group of businesses and individuals who all have their own unique stories to tell," he said.
"It has been more important than ever for all of us to share and celebrate stories of businesses excellence in these difficult times, that we hope are now finally behind us. Business Illawarra has been privileged to serve the business community of the Illawarra through an exceptionally challenging couple of years, and it has been nothing short of a privilege to showcase our award winners."
2021 IMB Bank Illawarra Business Award winners
- Business of the Year - Port Authority of NSW
- Excellence in Business - Port Authority of NSW
- Excellence in Customer Service - All Care Health Services Group
- Excellence in Import & Export - winner Easy Agile - highly commended FinoComp and C2C Logistics
- Excellence in Innovation - winner Business Valuations Online - highly commended Warrigal and Dog Force Australia
- Excellence in Micro Business - Tiny Tins
- Excellence in Small Business - winner His Boy Elroy - highly commended Poseidon Animal Health
- Excellence in Sustainability - winner Green Connect - highly commended Silos Estate
- Excellence in Tourism & Hospitality - joint winners Cupitt's Estate and Silos Estate
- Excellence in Workplace Culture - joint winners Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra and Warrigal
- Outstanding Business Leader - Michele Adair of the Housing Trust
- Outstanding Community Organisation - winner Warrigal - highly commended Green Connect
- Outstanding Employee - Susan Finn, of Burnetts on Barney
- Outstanding Start-Up - Wollongong Foot and Ankle Centre
- Outstanding Young Business Leader - winner Kylie Flament of Green Connect - highly commended Elspeth Finney - Shoalhaven Family Law
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