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The inaugural Otago Export Awards will provide a rare glimpse into some of Otago's "best-kept secrets", say organisers of the inaugural event, which will be held tonight in Dunedin's Octagon.
Hosted by the Otago Chamber of Commerce in partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and some local businesses, the awards were established to recognise the "collective vision, spirit and hard work" of local businesses as they moved products into international markets, chamber chief executive Dougal McGowan said.
"International trade is a key driver of Otago's economy. We have more than our fair share of businesses across a number of sectors who are forging new ground in international markets."
Businesses and personalities would be recognised across three categories: best emerging international business, best medium-large international business and excellence in innovation. There would also be a supreme award, while a fourth category, the unsung hero in export, was aimed at recognising those who had "contributed significantly to the export sector", he said.
The awards had attracted a wide cross section of businesses and personalities, notably in the "unsung" category.
"These are an important segment as they truly represent the guardians of many of New Zealand's international relationships, so the work they do behind the scenes is invaluable."
The nomination and judging process had "also allowed us to engage with a sector of our business community who we wouldn't normally have seen as part of our business awards".
The judges would be business adviser Steve Brocklebank, NZTE's Che Bliss and Dunedin Airport business development general manager Megan Crawford
The alignment with NZTE meant the winners would automatically be shortlisted for the NZTE International Business Awards, to be held in Auckland on November 7.
The awards evening would be preceded by a half-day export forum featuring key speakers with expertise in international business.
The winners will feature in tomorrow's Otago Daily Times.