Do you love a good coffee at Fred & Bet's? Or maybe you love picking up specialty produce at One Bite at a Time?
Now you can show your favourite local businesses just how much you love them with the People's Choice award.
Twenty-one businesses are in the running for the award, which is part of the inaugural Eastern Grampians Business Awards. Voting is now open to the public.
Ararat chief executive Tim Harrison said the business awards aimed to highlight excellence in a sector that brings much economic activity and growth to the region.
"One of the categories in the new-look awards is the People's Choice, which gives residents a chance to vote for the businesses they love," he said.
"This is a great opportunity for you to show your support for some of our wonderful businesses that are doing great things."
One Bite at a Time founder Amy Curruthers has only been open since July 2018 and said to be in the running was a huge honour.
"I was really surprised," she said. "For someone who's never been in business to be shortlisted ... I was just amazed and very excited for it."
Ms Carruthers said opening her own business was a long-time dream that was paying off.
"One of my favourite things about doing business in Ararat is that everyone is just so supportive," she said.
The awards made Ms Carruthers "sit back and think about" how businesses engage with the community.
"I think it's a really good initiative," she said. "For me it's a chance to engage with my customers."
For J Ward committee member Pauline Roberts making the shortlist was "very exciting".
"I'm excited because I just sent an email to the others (about entering the awards) and said 'what about it? Why don't we do it?" she said.
The awards provide J Ward, which is entirely volunteer-run, with a chance to branch out and connect with other businesses.
"We don't put in for grants or anything like that because we feel we can do it ourselves, but on occasion we need to have outside recognition," she said.
"Some out there in our little community, they don't really know what we actually do up there," she said.
"I think this is a good way to say to other businesses we are here, we are part of the business entity, we're part of the Ararat Regional Business Association, we pay our membership, but we don't attend any of their meetings which is a shame - we should be because bring a lot of money into Ararat and those business. I'm very excited."
Laura Cameron of Dynamic Dance Ararat said it was exciting.
"It's exciting. This is our eleventh year (running the school)," she said.
"This is the first time we've been entered in the business awards. It's really only the Facebook awareness so far."
Businesses in the running for the People's Choice category are:
- Acacia Caravan Park,
- AF Gason,
- Allstyle Business Solutions,
- Ararat Commercial Laundry,
- Ararat Physiotherapy and Health,
- Dynamic Dance Studio,
- Fred & Bet's Café,
- Green Hill Lake Development,
- Grampians Growmaster,
- Hotondo Homes,
- JWard Lunatic Asylum,
- Mountainside Wines,
- One Bite at a Time,
- ONE Office National,
- Perennial Pasture Systems,
- Pomonal Estate,
- PureVibe Hire,
- Sarah's Kitchen / Forager's Café,
- Three Blooms Florist.
Dr Harrison said it was great to see the Eastern Grampians Business Awards attract a healthy number of applications across five categories: agribusiness, retail, professional services, tourism and hospitality, and innovation and technology.
These categories will be judged by an independent panel.
The East Grampians Business Awards follow on from the now-defunct Grampians Pyrenees Business Awards that date back to 1999.
The awards provide businesses in the Ararat municipality the opportunity to grow, develop and further enhance their business.
Award finalists will be visited onsite by an independent panel of judges to gain a better understanding of their processes and operations.
To vote in the People's Choice category, visit www.ararat.vic.gov.au and click on the link on the home page before November 15.
The awards program will culminate in the presentation of awards to winners at a special gala dinner function on Thursday December 5 at the Ararat Town Hall.
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