A wish to celebrate innovation, success or survival is the common theme among businesses that entered the Ballarat Business Excellent Awards this year.
Thirty-five Ballarat businesses have been selected as finalists in the 2021 Federation Business School Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Award Finalists.
The finalists were announced on Wednesday morning via a Facebook livestream.
The awards are a positive for Ballarat businesses after they were cancelled for the first time in Commerce Ballarat history last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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One hundred and thirty applications were received this year, more than 2019 when the awards were last held.
Frank Ford Travel director Kylee Ellerton said it felt amazing to be a finalist, which is a first for the long-running business.
"It's been a very, very challenging year. After doing refunds all year and cancellations, I needed something positive to focus on," Ms Ellerton said.
"It's going to be some positivity to look forward to and some positivity for my staff as well. It will keep us going."
Judging panel chairperson Michael Duffin said 2020 had been an extremely challenging year for many businesses.
"It is great to see the resilience, perseverance and innovation shown by the applicants in the 2021 Federation Business School Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards," Mr Duffin said.
"It is a testimony to their strength that so many applicants shared their stories of success, innovation and survival."
Commerce Ballarat chairperson Hayley Coates said an incredibly diverse group of businesses entered the awards this year.
"One thing they all have in common is a wish to celebrate their innovation, success or survival," Ms Coates said.
"The awards are not a popularity contest, they are designed to focus on the back end of a business, their management, planning and processes.
"Of the 35 businesses selected as finalists, some are sole traders, some a little bigger, some are Commerce Ballarat members, and some are not and 21 are enjoying this experience for the very first time.
"Today we acknowledge the finalists, but we celebrate all in our Ballarat business community. "
The awards presentation and gala dinner will be held in August.
Ballarat Foundation Community Impact Award: Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre Ballarat, Cafs, YMCA Ballarat.
City of Ballarat Creative Industries Business Award: Form Imagination, MDP Photography & Video, Stoke Design Co.
The WIN Network Customer Service Award: Chris Packer & Associates, Showbiz Cinemas Ballarat, The Athlete's Foot Ballarat.
Regional Development Australia Grampians Eat Drink West Award: Black Cat Truffles, Dollar Bill Brewing.
Federation Business School Employer of the Year Award: Chris Packer & Associates, Elements Health & Fitness, McGrath Ballarat.
Bartlett Manufacturing Family Business Award: Bedggoods Motor Group, Buddies Community Access Network (C.A.N), Formosa Gardens Nursery.
GROW Ballarat Health and Wellbeing Business Award: Adrian Misseri Podiatry, UFS Dispensaries, Uplift Therapy.
Federation University Technology Park Innovation Award: Carboni's Italian Kitchen, Form Imagination, Vitrafy Life Sciences.
Nevetts Lawyers Manufacturing Award: Design Blinds & Shutters, Dollar Bill Brewing, Sovereign Press.
Runway Ballarat New and Emerging Business Award: 1816 Bakehouse, Buninyong Hair & Beauty, Vitrafy Life Sciences.
Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre Professional Service Business Award: BGT Jobs + Training, Chris Packer & Associates, McGrath Ballarat.
Integra Restaurants, Cafes and Pubs Business Award: Carboni's Italian Kitchen, Schnitz Ballarat, The Shared Table Ballarat.
Times News Group Retail Business Award: Ballarat Car Sales, Formosa Gardens Nursery, Go Vita.
Ballarat Power FM Small Business Award: Ballarat Car Sales, Indoor Go Kart, Laserforce & Entertainment Centre, Frank Ford Travel.
Central Highlands Water Trade Business Award Ballarat: Epoxy & Flake Flooring, Rubi Wax & Beauty, Trentron Electrical.
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