The Bairnsdale RSL was packed to the rafters last night as a record crowd attended the Federation Business School East Gippsland Business Awards.

Coordinated by Business & Tourism East Gippsland (BTEG), the Business Awards recognise East Gippsland businesses that excel in a variety of categories and thereby contribute significantly to the economy and lifestyle of our region.

Awards were given out last night in 14 Platinum and 4 Gold categories. The winners of the Platinum Awards were Culinaire (Food & Fibre); G.J. Gardner Homes East Gippsland (Franchises); Bloom Hearing Specialists (Health & Community Services); Skidz Driver Training (Home Based or Internet Business); Central Hotel/Motel Lakes Entrance (Hospitality); Webster Marine (Marine); Sailors Grave Brewing (New Business); The Hiit Factory (Personal Services); Simon Anderson Consultants (Professional Services); Target Country Bairnsdale (Retail and Supporting Youth Employment); Bemm River Holiday Accommodation & Boat Hire (Tourism); and Kennedy Trailers (Trades, Construction & Manufacturing).

The Gold Awards are Customer Service (won by Omeo Foodworks); Innovation (won by Ride the Koalas); Environmental Sustainability (won by G.J. Gardner Homes East Gippsland) and businesses that are Disabled, Aged and/or Family Friendly (won jointly by Bloom Hearing Specialists and Cells Cafe.)

The Young Achiever in Business Award, which recognises young people between the ages of 16 and 26 who are high achievers and/or entrepreneurs in their industry, was won jointly by Bec Blennerhassett of High Society Dance and Rachel Hewett of Momentum Health.
A new category this year, the Supporting Youth Employment Award, was introduced to recognise those businesses that provide opportunities in terms of apprenticeships, mentoring, work experience and similar opportunities to encourage young people to stay in the East Gippsland region. This award is sponsored by GELLEN and the recipient for 2017 is Target Country Bairnsdale.

A number of changes were made this year to the Awards process and to the categories and one of these changes is in respect of the parameters for the Outstanding Achievement Award. This Award, sponsored by Federation Business School, was given last night to Simon Anderson Consultants, in recognition of their contribution to the economy and lifestyle of the East Gippsland region over a twenty five year period.

Ian Harrison, Chair of BTEG, said that it had been so pleasing that a record number of businesses had entered the Awards this year and it was great to see winners from across the East Gippsland region. “It has also been beneficial to review and update some of the award categories and we are very pleased with the process and the result and extend our congratulations to all of the winners,” Mr Harrison said.

Janet Burton, Executive Officer to BTEG, said that “one significant change in process this year was that every business that entered the Business Awards received a personal visit from the judge of their category. We appreciate the time that businesses take to complete their application and feel strongly that every business deserves the opportunity of a personal visit from a judge.”

Chief Judge, Bob Carter, said “We had a very professional panel of 15 judges this year and appreciate the commitment that each of them made in volunteering considerable time to visit businesses across the East Gippsland region. We are indebted to all of them.”

The Federation Business School East Gippsland Business Awards is not only an opportunity to recognise those businesses delivering excellence in the provision of goods and services but also an opportunity to celebrate the wide array of local produce available in East Gippsland. The Bairnsdale RSL did an outstanding job last night in providing a three course meal of mainly local produce to the record crowd.

The final award given out last night was the Special Recognition Award. This is a new award introduced in 2017 to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of an individual who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the economy of our region. This new award, the initiative of the Mayor, Cr.Joe Rettino, is sponsored by the Shire of East Gippsland and a perpetual trophy was presented to Leonard Fenning of Fenning Timbers in recognition of his work to improve safety and reduce workplace accidents; to introduce innovation into the timber industry; to give back to the community by supporting local causes and organisations; and to build a world class timber mill in Bairnsdale that has survived and thrived for 70 years.

Cr. Joe Rettino said “Although this Award is not part of the normal Business Awards process, the gala ceremony represents an excellent opportunity to present the perpetual and individual trophy to the winner, Leonard Fenning.”

“We congratulate all of our finalists and winners and thank all those who made tonight’s event possible,” said Ian Harrison. “It was a late night, a great night and we look forward to doing it all again next year.”

See the Bairnsdale Advertiser & East Gippsland News for the Federation Business School East Gippsland Business Awards 2017 special feature, including all the Winners photos, on Monday the 23rd of October.