GOLOCAL

The Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's annual awards celebration will be returning for 2020, with a twist.

The Westpac Tauranga Business Awards 2020 are an opportunity to acknowledge, support and celebrate businesses that have performed well across all facets, including financial, sustainability, customer service and staff.

Given the impacts of Covid-19 on the events sector and the business community, event organiser Anne Pankhurst said an event of this kind was needed now more than ever.

"It's not about winning. It's about bringing the business community together, to acknowledge those who have done it tough, those who have been resilient and pushed through and to celebrate in the company of their peers.

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"Since lockdown, we have been advocating for a Love Local approach that highlights the skills, experience and expertise within our business community and the awards are an extension of this ethos."

With a lockdown on large-scale events until just a few months ago, the Westpac Tauranga Business Awards have not been immune to the effects of the pandemic and as such a number of changes are being made – both to the process and the event itself.

The traditional mix-and-mingle launch night went virtual, with a video launch held tonight via the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

There is also a new category for 2020: The Productivity People and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Continuous Improvement-Lean Category. This category recognises those businesses that have adapted and sought to streamline and improve their products, processes or services over the past year.

"We know that businesses have moved very rapidly, through digital transformation and innovation, to change their business model," Pankhurst said.

"We will be taking a strong focus on these elements through the judging process, looking at businesses that have adapted and that demonstrate creative, entrepreneurial or innovative processes, products or services, or a business model that has enhanced their success."

The awards process was largely unchanged, with each entrant requiring a self-audit and a rigorous judging process undertaken by an independent facilitator. This included a visit to the entrant's business, interviews with owner and staff, and a pitch weekend.

While thorough, Pankhurst said this was the part of the awards where businesses find the most value – not the trophies.

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"So often businesses are too busy doing the doing that they don't have the time to stop and evaluate. This process gives them that opportunity, and to have their businesses reviewed and scrutinised by a professional business expert who can then give them feedback to improve and adapt," she said.

"And then, when the hard work is done, the awards night is a way to take the team out for a celebration of all you have achieved."

This year, the awards event is undergoing a few changes. To reflect the Love Local format and focus, the awards dinner is now a degustation cocktail event.

Held at Trinity Wharf Hotel on November 13, it will showcase a range of food and beverages from New Zealand companies.

"We're calling it Shine Like A Diamond – so you still get to frock up but the format is a little more relaxed to allow for great conversation and celebration," Pankhurst said.

"Covid-19 has thrown us many curveballs but we think it is a great opportunity to try something different and most importantly give a big shout out to all local businesses who work tirelessly."

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Nominations and entries are open from July 20 to September 25. Visit www.businessawards.org.nz for full details and supporting documents.