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The Westpac-Otago Chamber of Commerce business award finalists, announced last night, were the highest quality yet seen by the judges, awards convener Ali Copeman said.
"We were completely blown away by the quality and the number of entries. This is my fourth time involved with the awards and we were pretty impressed by the calibre of the entries."
The awards started in 1998 and are held every two years.
However, what impressed Mrs Copeman even more were the 800 nominations which were whittled down to 135 entries.
Those 135 superseded the entries received by the Auckland and Wellington chambers for their awards.
The judges had a tough job sorting through the original entries before deciding on who to interview, she said.
"We have so many businesses doing amazing things internationally that we know very little about. It is possible to live in Dunedin and work anywhere."
Mrs Copeman this year set herself a goal of involving more of Otago's more established sponsors and successful businesses who had been less than forthcoming about their success.
"We should be shouting from the rooftops about how successful these businesses are."
The winners would be announced at an awards dinner in Dunedin on November 30.
The awards finalists are-
• Manufacturing/primary: Farra Engineering, Scott Technology, Speight's Brewery.
• Not-for-profit: Dunedin Community Childcare Association, Fortune Theatre Trust, Pact Group Charitable Trust, Chatbus.
• Retail: Dunedin Mitre 10 Mega, Stirling Sports-Dunedin, Acquisitions.
• Service: Back in Motion Physiotherapy, Chatsford - The Lifestyle Choice and Birchleigh Residential Care Centre, Myth, Southern Hospitality.
• Tourism: Catlins Wildlife Trackers, Larnach Castle, Tasty Tours.
• Maori Business Award: The Biomechanic, Kokiri Training Centre, Te Ara Pathways Transformational Life Coaching, A3 Kaitiaki.
• Emerging business: Destination Content, Igtimi, Old Fashioned Pie Company.
• Ethics: Computer Solutions & Training. Mercy Hospital Dunedin, Artemis Natural Healthcare, Zeal Steel.
• Sustainability: Zeal Steel, Monarch Wildlife Cruises,Catlins Wildlife Trackers.
• International trader: Gran's Remedies, New Zealand Honey, TracPlus Global.
• Health and Safety Impact: Otago Polytechnic, Bradken Resources, Milmeq.
• Research innovation and design: Farra Engineering, Milmeq, Scott Technology.
• Future business leader: Michael Milne, Anna Campbell.