Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry business awards will be well deserved as finalists announced for 2020

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

The finalists for the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry Great Southern Business Awards have been announced, with the awards set to recognise perseverance in a difficult year.

More than 350 businesses were nominated this year, leading to a shortlist of 44 finalists.

There are four finalists in the Business Person of the Year category — Brad Smithson from Terrywhite Chemmart Chester Pass, Jane Kelsbie from Worklink WA, Mel Homewood from the Alkaline Café, and Justin Bellanger from South Coast NRM.

South Coast NRM holds the most finalist nominations in this year’s awards, with the Albany-based organisation also in the running for the Community Service award, and Environmental and Sustainability award.

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Mr Bellanger said he considered the business to be a quiet achiever, but it was nice to be recognised for their work.

“Our team has been able grow our annual income and expand our work at a time when similar large for-purpose businesses in other parts of WA are shrinking,” he said.

“Most people probably don’t know this, but the environmental and sustainability sectors in WA is fiercely competed, and more like construction businesses that tender for infrastructure projects than a green project. Over the past financial year our gross income has increased by 23 per cent.”

This year has been unusual for all businesses, and Mr Bellanger said South Coast NRM had also faced challenges.

“Whilst we weren’t specifically prepared to deal with a pandemic, we are well structured as a organisation which meant that the business could continue to operate with minimal impact while we planned and implemented a variety a responses like working from home and varying sub-contracts. We also have worked hard to diversify our income streams, which gave us some confidence and resilience if any of them were affected.”

The awards will be presented on November 7 at Albany Entertainment Centre. The night’s top award — Great Southern Business of the Year — will be decided from the winners of each of the 15 categories.

ACCI chief executive Benita Catalini said the event would be a well-deserved celebration after an unprecedented year.

“We’ve been thrilled to see the business community shift the way they do business to accommodate what has been, for some, a really hard year,” she said. “For others business has actually improved, with sales and customer numbers increasing since 2019.

“Let’s hope that the restrictions allow for some more people in the entertainment centre so that we can get whole teams of businesses come along to celebrate the year.”

For a full list of finalists, visit albanycci.com.au.

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