BUSINESS TALK: Steve Baxter of Shark Tank fame is keynote speaker.
BUSINESS TALK: Steve Baxter of Shark Tank fame is keynote speaker. Allan Reinikka ROK080317abaxter1

Central Highlands is celebrating small businesses

A GALA dinner at the end of next month will highlight and celebrate the dedication and diversity of the Central Highlands business community while also encouraging business people to meet each other, foster healthy partnerships and network together.

Run biennially, the Central Highlands Business Excellence Awards (CHBEA) is a program spread over ten months with two components: a CHBEA Workshop Series and the Awards Gala Dinner for local businesses, council representatives, special guests and judging panelists, hosted by the Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC).

CHDC Business Development Officer, Ranee Parsons, said this week that 18 awards finalists across nine categories would soon be announced - chosen from 102 nominations - and winners would be announced on the night.

Additional nominations are also now expected for the People's Choice Award, with the CHDC Business of the Year and Hall of Fame categories to be decided this week by the judging panel.

Ms Parsons said it was important to celebrate the efforts and achievements of dynamic businesses in the region.

"The awards recognise the contribution of local business, not only to economic vitality but to creating a strong, healthy, vibrant regional community."

She said that in conjunction with the workshops, businesses were encouraged to monitor and analyse their processes and revisit their business plans every two years, implementing new strategies along the way.

"Industry-leading experts present a range of workshops around key topics that have been identified from survey feedback and one-on-one meetings with businesses in the Central Highlands region, running for 12 months from February 2017.

"These topics include the core skills that have been identified as a requirement for small businesses to have the best chance of success, including strategic planning, finance management and marketing strategies."

The workshops allowed local businesses to connect and strengthen the small business community, Ms Parsons said, which contributed to regional vitality and cross-collaboration opportunities.

She said nominations for the People's Choice Awards close this Friday, September 15, with voting open from September 22 to October 20. Residents from the Central Highlands are encouraged to get behind their favourite local business and vote.

Finalists in the main nine categories this week received one-on-one business support from a panel of expert judges drawn from outside the region, to give businesses the chance to gain knowledge, tips and advice from industry leaders.

The award categories are: Tourism Award; Manufacturing and Industry Award; Agribusiness Award; Retail and Lifestyle Services Award; Hospitality Services Award; Professional Services Award; Training, Knowledge and Development Award; Young Business Leader of the Year Award; Emerging Business of the Year Award; CHDC Business of the Year Award; Hall of Fame Award; People's Choice Award.

At the gala dinner on October 28, Steve Baxter - Queensland's future Chief Entrepreneur, founder and CEO of River City Labs, Managing Director of Start-up Catalyst - will provide the keynote address on the how entrepreneurialism and start-up capability can solve global challenges, create opportunities, investment and jobs of the future.

Mr Baxter, who was raised in Emerald, launched his first start-up aged 23, and has been a Shark on Channel 10's Shark Tank Australia for the past three seasons.

Dinner tickets are available via the CHDC website:

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