THE Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SHCCI) won Chamber of the Year at the 2015 Momentum EnergyIllawarraBusiness Awards last week. Of the 15 business chambers in the region, three were nominated for the award.
SHCCI Chairman Kurt Newman said the NSW Business Chamber had encouraged the Highlands chamber to enter because of what it had achieved in its first two years of operation.
"We had very solid competition. The Shoalhaven Business Chamber has been going for a long time and has sponsors, and the Corrimal Chamber are last year's winners and are very progressive. The bar was set very high," he said.
Mr Newman said the judging criteria included growth in membership, membership retention, and what the chamber had achieved for the business community.
"The achievements that were mentioned on the night were that we had successfully merged four smaller chambers to become one, we have only been going two years and that through our affiliate membership program we have united other business groups," Mr Newman said. He added that SHCCI was the only regional chamber to be affiliated with a metropolitan chamber.
"The amount of people who came up to us on the night and said they had heard about the great work we are doing was very gratifying."
Mr Newman said he hoped the award would attract other businesses to consider the Highlands.
"The award is validation of the belief and commitment of the board and the members. It has given us a level of credibility we haven't had before, which is great news for the Southern Highlands," he said.
SHCCI is now in the running for the state award in late November.
"We are up against chambers with thousands of members, but I believe we have a good chance. Even if we don't win, it's will be a great learning experience and we will be able to bring back more ideas to the Highlands," Mr Newman said.