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Eight businesses who topped a field of 27 finalists have been recognised for excellence in the 2021 Mount Alexander Business Awards.

The winners were announced at a gala event in the Castlemaine Town Hall last night.

Agribusiness Award winner Harcourt Organic Farming Co-operative was also declared the shire’s Business of the Year.

Castlemaine dance studio Movement Zone won a special award recognising best practice in accessibility and a COVID-19 Business Resilience Award went to the Castlemaine Farmers Market for adapting so well and professionally in the pandemic.

The awards and their winners are:

  • Business of the Year – Harcourt Organic Farming Co-operative
  • Agribusiness Award – Harcourt Organic Farming Co-operative
  • Professional Services Award – Vegetation Link
  • Micro Business Award – Goodness Flour
  • Manufacturing, Construction and Trade Award – Shedshaker Brewing Company
  • Health and Wellbeing Award – Castlemaine Physiotherapy
  • Creative Industries Award – Movement Zone
  • Tourism and Events Award – Big 4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park and The Taproom – Shedshaker Brewing Company
  • Retail and Hospitality Award – Big 4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park
  • Accessibility – Movement Zone

Harcourt Organic Farming Co-operative impressed the judges with their farming model of low food miles, sustainability, scalability and collaboration, to take out the coveted Business of the Year title and $2000 in prize money.

Their collaboration with the local Indigenous business, Murnong Mamas, in a trial bushfoods plot and a leaning towards traditional, sustainable and profitable farming methods also impressed judges who said it was clear that the co-op team had no wish to conquer the world, but endeavoured to make it a better place.

Mount Alexander Shire Mayor Bill Maltby congratulated all award nominees, finalists and winners.

He said a record 295 nominations reflected strong community support for local businesses, many of whom had endured a difficult 18 months.

“It shows our community is here for you, appreciates what you do and is keen to offer the recognition you deserve.

Mayor Maltby said the Council-organised-and-managed awards reflected Council’s commitment to supporting business growth and local employment.

“One of our major aims in our recently adopted Council Plan 2021-2025 is to build a resilient and growing local economy,” he said.

“This year the awards focused on environmental sustainability and accessibility for all which Council is also committed to supporting.”

Fifty-four businesses entered the awards, which are judged by a panel independent of Council.

Mayor Maltby thanked the judges for the challenging task of choosing winners from a very competitive field.

The judges were Paul Henderson of AusIndustry, Gavin Coffey retired CEO of Bolwell Corporation Australia Pty Ltd, Daniel Bone, Consultant, Mac Barry, Head of Asian Trading for Lazard, Nicky Thomas from Spring Hill Peony Farm / The Little Church in Spring Hill, Tony McDermott, recently retired, Engineering Commissioning Services, Kate Gamble, owner of The Shopkeepers Quarters and The Miner’s Pride, Rebecca Pedretti from Hepburn Shire Council, Lisa Rundell from the Lost Trades Fair and Tomahawk Marketing + PR, Genevieve Wearne from The Flophouse, and Lorraine Le Plastrier and Paul Gianni representing Mount Alexander Shire Disability Advocacy Group.

Songwriter and musician John Fleming, formerly of the Scared Weird Little Guys, MC’ed last night’s gala event.

The Mount Alexander Business Awards were proudly run by Council in partnership with gold sponsor Don Smallgoods and media partner Elliott Midland Newspapers, publishers of the Castlemaine Mail and Midland Express.

They are supported by Business Mount Alexander, Maldon Inc., Maldon & District Community Bank, MASDAG, Regional Development Australia, Vossloh Cogifer and Workspace Australia.