The Larne Times Business awards have been launched officially, with a call to firms to make the most of the opportunity to boost staff morale, company image and customer confidence.
Nominations are now open for the awards in 15 categories which will be presented at a black-tie gala in the Ballygally Castle Hotel on Thursday, June 9.
Anyone can nominate an individual or company for awards as diverse as Best Retail Initiative, Excellence In Innovation, Best Customer Service, Excellence In Tourism and Excellence in People Development.
Enterprise agency LEDCOM is sponsoring a new award, for the best business start-up of the past two years.
There are also awards for Best Export Business, Best Rural Business, Best Community Engagement Award, Best Environmental Business and Best Digital Initiative.
Competition will be keen for the titles Business Person of the Year and Young Business Person of the Year and the public are also being invited to vote for a local person whose outstanding contribution to business life in the Larne area merits a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Larne Times readers are being asked to vote for their favourite restaurant or cafe.
These are the third consecutive awards to be organised by the Larne Times, with the objective of promoting excellence in business and individual and corporate achievements in the industrial and commercial sectors in Larne and district.
Principal sponsor is Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and Magheremorne-based Forever Living is our associate sponsor.
Companies including PowerNI, Port of Larne/P&O, Gaelectric and Larne Traders’ Forum have already signed up as category sponsors and there are opportunities for more sponsors to come on board.
Launching the awards, Larne Times multimedia content editor Stephen Kernohan, said: “There is an additional incentive for sponsors this year in that the awards, like the Larne Times, will have a digital focus.
“As well as publicity each week in the Larne Times, the Business Awards will be promoted online, on our web site www.larnetimes.co.uk and on social media.
“For Twitter followers, we’ve come up with the hashtag #larnebizawards16.”
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Billy Ashe, said: “The awards are a great opportunity to pay tribute to the talent, entrepreneurship and excellence that exists across the full range of business and commerce in the Larne area.”
He added: “One of the key priorities for Mid & East Antrim Borough Council is to grow our local economy. The economic environment has been very challenging in the last year, but it’s not all bad news and these awards show the commitment of individuals and, the business excellence that exists in our Borough.
“As principal sponsor of the awards, Mid and East Antrim Council remains committed to ensuring that every business within the Borough is provided with the assistance and support needed to grow and prosper. Council recognises the significant benefits a strong economy brings to an area and as a Council we lead the way in working in partnership with local businesses to bring mutual benefits to our Borough.”
Cllr Ashe said: “We recognise that the development and retention of skills in the local economy is a key driver for economic success and sustainability and we are keen to work with our partners to ensure the right support mechanisms are in place.”
Urging firms to participate, the Mayor said: “By entering, businesses will not only have the opportunity to gain recognition and publicity for their achievements, but also the opportunity to boost staff morale, company image and customer confidence.
“I would like to wish everyone success in the Business Awards and commend the Larne Times and Johnston Press for their dedication and for organising this prestigious event.”
Stephen Kernohan urged: “It all begins with the nominations and we would encourage everyone to get involved. Whether you are a customer, a supplier, or the owner, manager or employee of a Larne and district business that you think is worthy of recognition, please fill in a nomination form, and encourage others to do so.”
Nomination forms are available at the Larne Times office, 8 Dunluce Street, For further information and enquiries, please contact either Julie Forde on 028 38395504 or Karen Fitzmaurice on 028 38395564.
Watch out for tweets, Facebook entries and both online and print updates each week up to and including the presentation ceremony.