BEST CHOCOLATE: Benoit Lorge, Lorge Chocolatier from Bonane, Kenmare is this year’s winner of the Kerry County Enterprise Award for 2020. Photo: Domnick Walsh

A chocolate business from Bonane, Kenmare is this year’s winner of the Kerry County Enterprise Award for 2020, the Kerry County Council Local Enterprise Office has announced.

Benoit Lorge, Lorge Chocolatier took the top prize of €2,500 and will now represent Local Enterprise Office Kerry at the 22nd National Enterprise Awards in the Mansion House in Dublin in May.

Lorge manufactures hand-made chocolates and confectionery, operates a chocolate and pastry cookery school and runs adult, children and family chocolate workshop activities. The awards were held at County Buildings, Tralee on Thursday last (March 5).

Another winner on the day was Emily Brick, Athena Analytics who won an award worth €1,000 as a finalist in the competition. Athena Analytics is based in Tralee and offers a suite of analytics tools for the education sector.

Lorge Chocolatier will now be competing against 30 other finalists from every local authority area for a share of the €40,000 prize fund as national judging gets underway in April. Categories this year include ‘Best Export Business’, ‘Future Focus’ and ‘Innovation’, in addition to eight regional awards.

The Kerry County Enterprise Awards took place as part of a very successful Local Enterprise Week programme of events. There were over 300 events taking place across the country, run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices from March 2 to 6.

“For the last two decades, the National Enterprise Awards have celebrated homegrown success stories from every corner of Ireland, putting their achievements into the national spotlight,” Head of Local Enterprise Office Kerry, Tomás Hayes, said. “And at the 2020 National Enterprise Awards, we are delighted to be represented by Lorge Chocolatier, yet another rural success story. The judges were particularly impressed by their ongoing commitment and innovation in their craft, their business strategy and ongoing job creation potential combined with their market success. We wish them continued success with their job creation/company expansion plans.”

Other high-profile events that took place during the Enterprise Week included Brexit Advice Clinics, Digital Marketing Clinics, LEAN Information Seminars and ‘Start Your Own Business Courses’ in Listowel and Cahersiveen.