KEY figures from the business community came together to kick off this year’s Observer and Gazette business awards.
With a collective of sponsors, nominees and former award-winners, the best in business came together under one roof to launch the awards.
The evening, on Wednesday, January 22, was hosted by principal sponsor the University of Chichester, and vice-chancellor Professor Clive Behagg explained why the university is on board.
“We are really proud to be principal sponsors of the Observer awards because of the recognition it is giving to local business,” he said.
“We are responsible for 900 jobs so it makes us a significant player in the area as far as business is concerned.”
He talked about the transition the university is going through in the way it is funded, and explained how it is becoming a business in its own right.
Because of this, he said, the institution wants to play a big part in supporting other firms in the area, as they come out of what was a ‘tough’ time for business.
“Tonight and the Observer awards are really about economic growth and economic regeneration,”
“We are committed to supporting the economic regeneration of this area.”
Editor-in-chief of the Observer and Gazette, Gary Shipton, talked about how the country is coming out of the economic crisis, and how businesses must be adaptable to fit in with the increasing demands of customers.
He quoted Charles Darwin, and said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
He explained how newspapers have had to adapt too, with readers accessing news and information online, as well as through print.
“The secret of success is you adapt to change,” he said.
“You want to take your existing customers with you on the journey as we change the way we offer our products and begin a whole new adventure.”
He spoke about the Observer and Gazette areas and explained why they were great places to start and grow a business.
“Chichester and this whole surrounding area is an exceedingly brilliant place to live and work.
“The great thing about these awards is that it sends out a signal, and that signal is that not only are we the best, but we know we are the best,” he said.
“And the wonderful thing is people are attracted to that.”
Chairman of the Chichester Chamber of Commerce, Louise Fenwick, talked about why local firms should get involved.
“We are aware of how hard it is out there, and the opportunity to say well done to people is really important,” she said.
She added that winning an award gave employees a sense of pride, and the awards were a chance to give staff recognition for their hard work.
Sponsorship was another key part of Ms Fenwick’s speech. She said sponsoring a certain category, whether it was close to your heart, or something the firm excelled in, was a chance to put a firm on the map.
“It actually makes people associate you with something,” she said.
“It is more than just a business award, it is a big pat on the back for everyone concerned.”
Get your nominations in by March 1, by logging on to http://www.jpsouthevents.co.uk/event/observer-gazette-business-awards-2014/