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How you can praise Sunderland businesses for their hardwork during the pandemic in the Echo's Portfolio Awards

Sunderland’s leading firms have shown their strength during the pandemic – and now they deserve to be heralded at the 2020 Portfolio Awards.

That’s the message from a council leader as this year’s competition launches amid a very different business climate.

The world is living under a pandemic but it hasn’t stopped Wearside firms from showing their strengths, said Coun Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council which is once again the headline sponsor of the Portfolio Awards.

We are also delighted to welcome on board the partner sponsors for this year’s awards and they are Utillity Alliance, Gentoo, the Autism Society, Station Taxis and Bradley Hall.

When asked how Sunderland had responded to Covid-19, Coun Miller said: “Sunderland’s business community has responded with the resilience, innovation and determination that I knew it would.

“This is a city that has had the strength to overcome adversity for decades. That has faced economic crises head-on and come through them with the same steadfast focus and work ethic.

“Businesses have suffered – indeed, most firms will have felt the pain of the pandemic, and many more will in the future, as we continue to fight through this crisis.

"But we have incredible entrepreneurs here, and a committed workforce that will support businesses through this economic storm. This is a crisis that forces us to physically distance, but has seen us unite to support each other as best we can.

"Businesses have come together – our business investment team has lent its support, and it is this collaboration and collective will that means we’ll emerge from this stronger.”

Coun Miller urged businesses to enter the awards which will have its delayed final in the summer of 2021.

But the awards will still be a celebration of greatness and Coun Miller said: “Celebrating success is absolutely vital – not only in recognising the achievements of our businesses, but to challenge and inspire others.

"It’s been a tough year, and we know that a great many companies have had a hard time. We must try to maintain focus, stay positive and showcase the incredible work of firms over the last year.

"The Portfolio Awards are a real focal point in the business calendar, and I always leave the awards feeling in total awe of our businesses and their people.”

Coun Miller had a message for Sunderland’s firms as this year’s awards began.

He said: “It would be easy to let the challenges of 2020 get us down – to take us into a negative, defensive mode.

“But we have to be positive, we have to continue to recognise achievements and we have to keep on keeping on. That’s why these awards are so important and I urge everyone to get behind them...more this year than ever before and let’s come together to champion and celebrate the magnificent business community we have in Sunderland.”

Gary Oliver, Head of Content for the Sunderland Echo which has joined forces with the council in the search for Wearside’s business elite, said: “There may never have been a more challenging time for businesses on Wearside.

“The pandemic has put jobs at risk, whole companies under threat and left entrepreneurs wondering what the future may hold.

“Yet the business people of Sunderland have responded to the economic turmoil in the way they do best - with initiative, creativity and sheer determination to come through this.

“It is that brilliance which we have seen year after year in the entries for the Portfolio Awards.

“Of course, this is a year like no other and we realise the challenges that Sunderland and County Durham companies face, but we also know of the inspiring success stories in the face of adversity.

“There has never been a more important time to shout out loud and proud about your business successes.

“What better way to do it than by entering the Portfolio Awards and letting the Wearside world know of your story.”

Last year, there was a standing ovation as Hays Travel won both the Large Business of the Year and the Overall Business of the Year titles in recognition for its incredible year of growth in which Hays re-opened scores of former Thomas Cook shops and saved nearly 2,000 jobs of Thomas Cook workers.

Now comes your chance to enter the 2020 competition. To do that, follow the details below.

Good luck to everyone and lets make this an awards which celebrate all that is great about Sunderland.

Now in their 15th year, the Sunderland Echo is proud to launch the Portfolio Business 2021 Awards. These prestigious awards are a celebration of excellence within the business sector across Wearside & East Durham.

THE CATEGORIES.

Small Business of the Year (under 10 Employees).
Medium Business of the Year (11-50 employees).
Large Business of the Year ( over 50 employees).
Employer of the Year.
Apprentice of the Year.
Technology of the Year. 
City Centre Business of the Year.
Creative Industries Award.
Sole Trader of the Year.
New Business of the Year.
Special Community Business Award.
Best Green Business Award.
Social Enterprise Award.
Best Training Provider Award.
Exporter of the Year.
Women in Business Award.
Leisure Business Award.
Lifetime Achievement Award.
Overall Business of the Year.

HOW TO ENTER.

There’s plenty of time to enter before the closing date for nominations and we will reveal them in due course. Then, the judges will face the unenviable task of trying to whittle down the field into a shortlist.

All of the chosen finalists will get to attend the grand finale. We will reveal the winners at a glittering evening of celebration on Thursday, June 24 next year, at the Stadium of Light.

So come on, let’s get the process rolling by finding those businesses worthy of consideration.To nominate, email lynn.wild@jpimedia.co.uk