STARTING a tour business in the middle of global pandemic might raise eyebrows in some quarters but for tour operator Nicole Farrell, it was a logical step.
Ms Farrell's Country Food Trails was one of two Orange business recognised in the Business NSW 2021 Western NSW Business Awards, announced online on Friday evening.
Country Food Trails won the award for outstanding start-up while tuition firm Clever Cookie Academy, owned and run by Orange couple Rob and Peita Mages, earned an award double, for excellence in innovation and excellence in small business.
For both businesses, adapting to the changes COVID-19 forced upon them was critical with Ms Farrell admitting "You'd have to be slightly crazy or very determined to start a tourism business in the last year - or a combination of both".
But she said she did the research before starting Country Food Trails in September 2020, when she realised there was a gap in the market offering intimate tours of the Orange district.
The award double was also a huge affirmation for the Mages, who began their business in a shed two years with Peita as the sole employee.
It's since grown to 12 staff, who provide tuition to 369 clients, housed in the top floor of the plaza in Anson Street.
"We were able to just adapt and put everything on online so were lucky we didn't skip a beat and just kept going," Peita Mages said.
"We're also lucky our customers stuck with us through what was a tricky time, many of them are small business owners themselves."
The title of Western NSW Business of the Year went to Dubbo's Ben Furney Flour Mills.
Winners of the 2021 Western NSW Business Awards will now represent the region at the State Business Awards to be held in late November.
"Based on the calibre of this year's finalists, I expect that our regional winners will again do very well at the State Business Awards," Business NSW regional manager Western NSW Vicki Seccombe said.
The full list of 2021 Western NSW Regional Winners:
Outstanding Employee: Joanna Treasure, Thring Pastoral Company, Cowra
Outstanding Young Business Leader: Joshua Shields, Summit Cranes, Dubbo
Outstanding Business Leader: Alison Broinowski, Perfectly Sorted, Mudgee
Employer of Choice: Millthorpe Little Learning Centre, Millthorpe
Excellence in Innovation: Clever Cookie Academy, Orange
Outstanding Community Organisation: Orana Early Childhood Intervention, Dubbo
Outstanding Start Up: Country Food Trails, Orange
Excellence in Micro Business: 123Tix, Dubbo
Excellence in Small Business: Clever Cookie Academy, Orange
Excellence in Business: Ben Furney Flour Mills, Dubbo
Outstanding Local Chamber: Business Mudgee, Mudgee
Western NSW Business of the Year: Ben Furney Flour Mills, Dubbo.
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