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Hunter Business Awards launch – with a COVID pivot

Release Date: 8/09/2020
The 2020 Hunter Business Awards open today, boasting a new presentation format and a special award to recognise our region’s COVID Business Hero.
The Awards will be contested in 17 categories, with the winners to be presented with their awards at a live, COVID Safe gala ceremony at the Civic Theatre on Friday 20 November.
“We are delighted to be able to host the Hunter Business Awards in a year that has been the toughest in memory for many in our business community,” Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.
“We know how much the Awards mean to businesses in our region and, in the spirit of the times, we have been thinking outside the square to find a way to deliver an awards program with the prestige and excitement that our business community has come to expect.
“We want to make the 2020 Hunter Business Awards one to remember.”
The gala ceremony will be a theatre-style presentation with ticketed seating and drinks and finger food service conducted in compliance with the venue’s COVID Safe plan. If COVID restrictions are tightened, there is a contingency to take the event online.
The Hunter Business Awards will be presented in 17 categories – including a new ‘people’s choice’ award that will go to a business that has demonstrated innovation, resilience and goodwill in response to COVID.
“COVID-19 has placed extraordinary challenges on people in business, who have made enormous sacrifices to keep our community safe,” Mr Hawes said.
“We have created the COVID Business Hero Award to recognise the extra effort businesses have made to overcome adversity during the pandemic period and continue to support their employees, other businesses or their communities.
“In another response to COVID, we have expanded the Excellence in Innovation category to specifically acknowledge business adaptation.
“We have also streamlined the entry process this year, with fewer questions and shorter responses, because we know businesses are working harder and we want to make it easier for them to participate.”
Mr Hawes said the Hunter Business Chamber was proud to be once again partnering with the University of Newcastle to present the Awards.
“The University has also had a challenging year and it speaks to the strength of their relationship with the business community that they are again supporting the Hunter Business Awards as major sponsor.
“We are very grateful for the support of the University of Newcastle and all of our dedicated sponsors.
“We would also like to acknowledge the team from the Civic Theatre, who have worked with us to develop an innovative COVID Safe model for the Awards ceremony.”
Entries for the Hunter Business Awards will remain open until Sunday 4 October, with the finalists to be announced on Friday 30 October. Tickets for the gala presentation ceremony will go sale in mid October.
Entries are invited from businesses and individuals in the following categories:
  • Kristen Keegan Young Business Leader (18 – 30 years) sponsored by Quarry Mining
  • Outstanding Young Entrepreneur (18-30 years) sponsored by AGL
  • Business Leader of the Year (31+ years) sponsored by CPA Australia
  • Contribution to the Region sponsored by Port Authority of NSW
  • Excellence in Micro Business (>5 employees) sponsored by Glencore
  • Excellence in Small Business (5-20 employees) sponsored by Newcastle Herald
  • Excellence in Business (21+ employees) sponsored by NSW Minerals Council
  • Excellence in Social Enterprise
  • Start Up Superstar
  • Excellence in Innovation and Adaptability
  • Excellence in Sustainability sponsored by Umwelt
  • Excellence in Import or Export sponsored by Port of Newcastle
  • Excellence in Workplace Culture, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • COVID Business Hero (followed by a popular vote) sponsored by University of Newcastle
Two awards will be decided through a separate selection process.
  • President’s Award
  • Love Water Love Business Award sponsored by Hunter Water
To enter the Awards or for more information, visit

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