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13 March 2017 Entries for the 2017 Central Otago Awards open this week. The Central Otago Awards are presented biennially to businesses and individuals that are achieving great things and that exemplify the spirit of the region. Award categories include Business Excellence, Young Professional, Community Service, Apprentice and Youth. Young Professional is a new category this year to recognise and celebrate young people who are achieving outstanding results in their chosen career. This year businesses of all sizes and from any industry are encouraged to enter the Business Excellence Award category. Regional Identity Manager Shirley Howden says the awards are about “honouring excellence, innovation, big hearts and the amazing contribution many make to our region”. Ms Howden is encouraging the community to get involved by either nominating someone (for the young professional, community service and youth awards) or “shoulder-tapping” someone they think should enter the business excellence or apprentice award categories. “I think a good way to go about nominating someone is to get a few people together and do it as a group so that you can capture this person’s amazing contribution from different angles. It also gives the judges a much better sense of what that person has achieved.” For businesses, the awards application process is robust and offers “a great opportunity to review what is outstanding about their business and the way they operate”, says Ms Howden. “The winner of the Business Excellence Award will be profiled in the NZ Business magazine, getting national exposure.” Entries for this year’s awards close at 5pm, Wednesday 18 May. This year’s awards ceremony will be held in Roxburgh on Friday 8 September. The guest speaker is Sam Johnson, co-founder of WeVisit and Adjunct Fellow in the School of Education and Leadership at the University of Canterbury. Mr Johnson is well-known for founding the Student Volunteer Army after the Christchurch earthquakes. For more information, including entry forms, visit www.centralotagoawards.co.nz. If you have any queries please contact Shirley Howden on (03) 440 0624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.