WE’RE a perverse lot in the North East. Back in the summer, just before we launched this year’s event, we were concerned that, like everything else, the nebusiness awards might be a victim of the credit crunch.
Would we get sponsors? Could we persuade companies to enter? Would we get people to take tables at the dinners? The awards could be an easy casualty of the cost-conscious corporate world we now live in.
How wrong we were. This year, we’ve enjoyed record support from our sponsors, we’ve had more award entries than ever and attendances at the four dinners have been as good as in previous years. What a fantastic reaction to a tough economy and what a tremendous tribute to the resilience and spirit of North East business.
What the awards do, of course, is highlight that not everything is doom and gloom – far from it. The regional final represents business success at its best and is a great showcase for companies that have positive and inspiring stories to tell.
We need to be reminded that there are sectors and there are businesses that have bucked the economic trend and tonight is a rightful celebration of excellence and performance. It is so important at the moment that we do celebrate and highlight success.
The 12 award categories demonstrate that North East business is achieving success at all levels. And it is both small and large businesses that have made it through to the final stage of an intense regional competition. We should be particularly encouraged that we had a substantial entry this year from the small business sector. The growth and development of small businesses will be a crucial component of the economic revival of the region.
I’m biased, of course, but I do think the nebusiness awards play a valuable role for North East business. It is the biggest business awards competition in the UK and, in my view, does a great job of bringing businesses together and helping to develop a real sense of business community for the region. It also, every year, uncovers new, previously unheard of companies that have made an impact in the North East.
Once again, we are hugely grateful for the tremendous support we get for the awards. The relevance and gravitas of the awards is just a huge reflection of the commercial input of our sponsors, the contribution of the judges, the confidence of all the award entrants and the amazing reaction from more than 2,000 people who attend one of the four dinners. It is fantastic support: thank you. A special mention should rightly go to Business Link North East, which has partnered us again this year.
Finally, good luck to all the finalists. They have already been winners in their sub-region and whichever companies come out on top really will have earned their recognition and are worth taking note of. Winning a top business award in the worst economic recession for decades … that’s perversity!