Australia Post has unveiled the 100 winners of its Local Business Heroes program, supporting small businesses across the country, with winners each receiving a package of business support, products and services.

Entries in the 2023 Local Business Heroes program increased by 400% since last year with 100 winners selected from a pool of over 4,000 entries. Businesses from regional Australia made up 40% of the winners.

The annual program was created to assist local business owners reach new customers and give their business a boost. This year, Australia Post almost doubled the total number of Local Business Heroes to 100 winners, from 57 last year.

Australia Post executive general manager of parcel, post and ecommerce services, Gary Starr said the response to this year’s application phase has been remarkable and a strong indicator of the need to support small businesses.

“Small businesses operate at the heart of all communities across Australia. Australia Post is extremely proud to provide support to hard-working business owners – helping their businesses to thrive,” he said.

“I’m particularly delighted that, this year, we’ve seen an influx of applications from business across rural and regional Australia, which made up almost one-third of all applications, who might not have the same opportunities as those located in metro locations. I look forward to seeing the winners reach new customers and utilise other benefits of the program.”

This year, the number one category for entries was clothing – representing almost one in five (18%) applications, with the 2023 Local Business Hero winners including Colleen’s Lingerie and Swimwear, a clothing business located in Canberra that creates mastectomy swimwear for breast cancer survivors.

The second highest category was arts and crafts at 13% of applications with several winners falling into this industry, including The Daily Planner, a planner created for teachers by a Brisbane-based teacher and business owner. Another winner is Calm Ideas, a Sydney-based business that creates products such as notepads and cardboard boxes for children struggling with anxiety. Children can note down their worries in their Worry Cubby notepads before popping them into their Worry Cubby houses.

Other business categories included jewellery and accessories representing 11% of this year’s applicants, bath and body products at 8% and food and drinks also at 8%.