OPINION: Last night, Manawatu celebrated the outstanding achievements of its business community.
Each year, for the past few years, events such as the one last night have been held against a backdrop of economic pain as businesses large and small battled through a recession that seemed relentless.
While the economic headwinds seem to be softening slightly, times are still tough for many businesses, which is why events like the Manawatu Business Awards are so important.
Amid all the bad news we've been confronted with in recent years - downsizing, closures, lay-offs and liquidations - it's easy to lose sight of the success stories. It's also easy to forget that behind the headlines of economic doom and gloom are real people putting their blood, sweat and tears into their businesses in order to keep their doors open and their staff employed.
There can be great rewards in running one's own business, but the risks are equally as large and the associated stresses can be crippling. When things go wrong, there is nowhere to hide.
Business operators throughout this region have not only withstood the toughest economic conditions in a generation, many have turned adversity into opportunities to reinvent what they do, innovate, and improve their products and services.
The successes celebrated last night must have been that much sweeter for the struggles the award winners had to overcome to achieve them. Their courage, commitment and determination to succeed serves as an example to us all.
It was particularly pleasing to see a number of businesses that have become strong Manawatu brands recognised. The supreme award winner, FMG, is an iconic local business, and a worthy recipient of such a high honour.
The Herb Farm, winner of both the integrity and ethics in business award and the sustainable business award, is also a fantastic Manawatu success story.
While last night's ceremony was a wonderful celebration of some great business achievements in the region, it is only part of the story. There are thousands of business people in Manawatu who should be immensely proud of what they have achieved in the past few years. For some, that achievement might simply have been surviving; for others it will be bigger than that.
Whatever, it's important that as a community we acknowledge the huge contribution the business sector makes to Manawatu, both in good times and in bad. Congratulations to you all.
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