(6.30pm, 28 August 2012, Town Hall)
Thank you, Valerie Khoo, MC and welcome, everyone, to Town Hall. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who call our city home.
I'm pleased to have this opportunity of congratulating you all as finalists in our 2012 City of Sydney Business Awards.
Each year, the number of nominated businesses grows - this year up to a total of 883, a 38 per cent increase on the previous year.
That's a testimony to the strength of our small-to-medium business sector and to the energy and enterprise of all of you.
It also means that you finalists have won through some already stiff competition.
The well-reported difficulties faced by businesses with the trend to on-line shopping were reflected in the nominations this year. So that while nominations in the specialty retail category were down 34 per cent this year, on-line businesses increased by 36 per cent.
Other growth areas included information and communications technology, which were up by a massive 90 per cent, and professional services which were up by 25 per cent. Forty-five per cent of the nominees have been in business for less than three years.
While the bulk of nominations came - unsurprisingly - from the CBD, 27 of the 33 suburbs of the Sydney Local Government Area were represented. It was especially pleasing to see that Redfern - once the domain of the roller-shutters and empty streets - provided five per cent of the nominations, doubling the previous year.
Our upgrades of Redfern Street and the park, and our work with local businesses, is bearing fruit, and a buzzy new local village is taking shape in what was once a very bleak part of town.
These village centres, with their mix of residential and commercial, are a vital element in making Sydney the lively, intriguing and energetic place that it is. And local businesses don't only provide goods and services but help build local identity and in many cases, act as local meeting points.
The continued health of this sector is vital for the continued health of the Sydney economy and the City recognises that through our Let's Talk Business series of seminars, and of course, through these awards.
In that, we're supported by our sponsors, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them for the generosity.
- Our Major Sponsors, ANZ and Google Apps for Business
- Our Sponsors Energy Australia, Hayes Knight, TAFE NSW Sydney Institute and Quick-Clips and
- Our Media Partner, Central Magazine
The winners will be announced at the Awards dinner which will be held at the Westin Sydney on October 10, with David Koch as MC. I'll look forward to seeing you all there.
Once again, congratulations to everyone who entered for helping make Sydney the great place that it is, and congratulations to the finalists.