Encouraging local firms in tough times

South Lodge Hotel.

South Lodge Hotel.

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FIVE years ago, the County Times launched its prestigious Business Awards. At that time, the economy was still booming and firms had much to celebrate. Then the bubble burst, and boom turned to bust.

However, in a more austere climate, business awards have become more rather than less important. When the economic climate turns stormy it is essential that we all play our part in encouraging local firms and helping them share success.

In difficult times, greater customer service, rigorous cost control, and innovative and pioneering spirit all become essential ingredients for survival.

And so this year the County Times Business Awards have an even more important role to play in the life of our business communities.

It is for these reasons that we are delighted to launch the 2011 awards and announce that the fifth anniversary event will once again be held in the sumptuous setting of South Lodge Hotel at Lower Beeding.

Nominations are now open and we urge all businesses and readers within the County Times’ circulation area to participate.

In appreciation of the constraints on time all in business face, the process is designed to be as easy as possible. Simply complete and return the form on this page, giving reasons for your nomination on a separate but attached piece of paper.

Businesses can nominate themselves, and can be entered into more than one category – but separate reasons must be given for each category.

The nominations closing date is Friday April 15. Our judging panel, headed by the editor, will then appraise all entries and may undertake site visits where appropriate.

A shortlist will then be drawn up, and every firm that is shortlisted for an award will be invited, as our guest, to the awards ceremony and black tie dinner on June 16 at South Lodge Hotel.

It is always a glittering occasion, and we are confident that this year’s fifth anniversary awards will be better than ever.

But that can only happen if all businesses, of all sizes, support us by putting themselves forward for consideration. We urge readers to also nominate the businesses they believe deserve recognition – and of course the Readers’ Award will be determined solely by public vote.

Categories this year include Best Small Business, Restaurant of the Year, Community Contribution, Best Independent Shop and the Green Business Award.

The winner in each of category will also automatically be short listed for the Southern Business Awards which celebrate the best of the best across East and West Sussex, and East Hampshire.

At the County Times we are grateful for the thriving business community which keeps this area vibrant. Together with our sponsors, we want to be able to say thank you to all the companies who are battling against the current economic tide.

For more information about the awards please contact Patricia Slatter by calling 01403 751257, or email patricia.slatter@sussexnews papers.co.uk.