(6pm, Wednesday 10 October 2012, The Westin Grand Ballroom)
Thank you David (Koch, MC) and good evening everyone.
I'd like to acknowledge the original custodians of our land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present. I also acknowledge the people of the 200 nations who live in our beautiful city.
It's great to see you all here for this year's City of Sydney Business Awards night, which are all about celebrating excellence in our small to medium business sector - that contributes more than $40 million to our economy every year, and which we at the City so strongly support.
And I want to take this opportunity to strongly reject the mischievous misinformation that was peddled at the recent Council elections that the City doesn't support business. You are very important to us and that is why we actively participate in building a flourishing business, hospitality and retail sector through a wide range of programs and support, including seminars, forums and workshops to help you keep pace with technological change, save on operating costs and improve environmental sustainability.
We offer grants to kick-start fledgling businesses, low cost accommodation to support creative start-ups, and sponsorship for major festivals and events that attract people to our city and generate contracts for suppliers and services - many of them smaller to medium businesses.
As well, we work with you to streamline our processes to make it easier to do business in the city.
These programs are a high priority for us - and we are committed to stimulating and energising our city economy.
Tonight's awards celebrate the achievements of our business sector and it's fabulous to see that they are the biggest yet. There were not only a record 830 nominated businesses, more than 60,000 people voted across the 22 categories.
It's particularly exciting to see that so many new businesses are choosing Sydney as the place to start, with nearly half of all the nominees having been in operation for less than three years. We also saw a dramatic increase in nominations for online businesses - up by 40 per cent - and for information and communication technology businesses - up by an extraordinary 90 per cent.
Its also terrific that 32 of the finalist businesses have entered the Sustainable Business Award, an increase of 30 per cent from last year.
Before we get on to announcing all our winners, I would like to thank the judges for their time and expertise. I'd also like to thank our sponsors:
- Google Apps for Business
- Energy Australia
- Hayes Knight Accountancy
- TAFE NSW Sydney Institute
- Quick Clips
- and Central Magazine.
Thank you also to the Business Awards program producer for the past five years, the Events Agency.
Now to further reinforce our support for these awards and add to the enticement of taking part in them, the City of Sydney is - for the first time - committing CASH PRIZES to the already impressive prize pool.
This means our Small Business of the Year and our overall Business of the Year will be receiving cheques. All will be revealed at the end of the night!
And again - a big thank you to the business sector. It's your excellence, innovation and hard work that makes our city such a liveable, exciting and lively place to be.
Thank you and enjoy the evening!