Anne Ganley, chief executive of Sunderland independent builders merchant Thompson Building Centres has been honoured by Sunderland City Council.
Ganley received the "Outstanding Contribution to the City" award at a major ceremony on Wearside on Thursday (October 13).
The special award was part of the Sunderland Echo PORTFOLIO Business Award which honours companies and individuals across Wearside and was one of 14 honours given out on the night.
The Outstanding Contribution to The City is selected by the council to recognise someone who has made a real impact in their home area.
"This was an absolute surprise for me but a really great honour," said Ganley.
"To be recognised in this way by the city which is at the heart of Thompson Building Centres and where we started the business is very special not just to me but to every member of our team."
The judges said Mrs Ganley was "a worthy winner who has turned her business from humble beginnings into a market leader while devoting time and energy to any number of good causes."
In previous years Ganley has been named Entrepreneur of the Year and last year Thompson Building Centres became Overall Company of the Year.