This year CommBank is proud to sponsor the Local Business Awards, championing small businesses’ achievements and their contributions to local communities across NSW and the ACT.
The awards are currently taking place in almost 30 communities across NSW and ACT. At the Northern Beaches Local Awards, held last week, 270 finalists nominated by the public came together for an evening of recognition and celebration.
CommBank is the Presenting Partner of the awards, and Head of Business Banking Mike Vacy-Lyle welcomed the guests and talked to the resilience and ingenuity small businesses have demonstrated over a challenging few years.
“I’m always struck by the commitment each and every small business owner has to their business, and to their local community. Small businesses play a huge role in supporting and sustaining the social fabric of our communities — and what a great community it is in the Northern Beaches,” Mr Vacy-Lyle said.
“We all know a thriving small business sector is critical to our country’s economic success. Small businesses truly are the backbone of the Australian economy. But we also know it’s not easy running a small business. Our team is here to help — through every stage of the business journey — whether starting up, growing, or managing through current challenges, we want to help more local small businesses reach their goals.”
Northern Beaches local Vicki Clare-Geluk, a CommBank small business customer and owner of Pliè Groove’n’Shuffle (PGNS) dance school took the night’s win in the Performing Arts category. Established 25 years ago, PGNS now has studios in four locations, with over 1000 students and 30 staff members.
On her motivation behind starting her business, Ms Clare-Geluk said that she wanted to make dancing inclusive, affordable and accessible for everybody.
“I’m a very proud Northern Beaches resident and I love that I’m able to provide classes for our local community, and I’m proud that I’m able to offer opportunities for local people to be working in my business.”
Like many small business owners, Ms Clare-Geluk has faced significant hurdles over the last several years as strict Covid restrictions made it almost impossible to run her business.
“It was definitely the hardest time I’ve had as a business owner, much harder than being 21 and signing my first commercial lease,” said Ms Clare-Geluk. “I for the first time in my whole life, it made me feel like I didn’t want to run a business anymore.” .”
But with business slowly returning to normal, albeit while still feeling the aftermath of lockdowns, PGNS’s award was a timely recognition of the positive contribution the dance school has made in the community.
“After feeling quite deflated for the last two years due to Covid, winning an award makes you remember why you do it, and that all the hard work is actually worth it. It felt extra special because it’s my 25th year of business this year,” said Ms Clare-Geluk.
The local awards nights come ahead of the Australian Small Business Champion Awards, which celebrate outstanding small businesses across the nation. This year, the program expanded to 100 industry categories, giving more small businesses the opportunity to be recognised for their hard work and success.
The National Presentation Evening will be held this week at the Star in Sydney, on Friday 2 September and Saturday 3 September.
With over 10,000 small businesses anticipated to have applied for the Champion Awards, the judges will choose finalists based on the business’s achievements, staff training initiatives, business and environmental sustainability, and demonstrations of contributing to the local community.
The Australian Women’s Small Business Champion Awards, aims to celebrate the significant contribution women have in the small business community, will be held in November, with government members, senior business leaders and inspiring small business owners set to attend.