The search has once again begun for the finest business talent in the region.
Through the largest and most prestigious business awards to be held in the North East, we look each year to give recognition to companies that have gone the extra mile during the previous 12 months, whether they have broken into new markets, created innovative products or proved a vital asset to their communities.
Hundreds of top companies came forward for the North East Business Awards 2013, showing strength, ambition and creativity, despite challenging trading conditions.
And now, as promising signs emerge that the economy is growing, at least in some sectors, there is more reason than ever to celebrate the drive and skills here in the North East.
The awards, organised by The Journal and the Evening Gazette, will give firms of all kinds the chance to show what makes them special – and they have until December 27 to do so.
Since 2001, when the sub-regional heats were launched, around 2,800 companies have entered at least one category, and this year, just as the two newspapers launch their Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign, an Apprenticeship Award has been added to recognise firms supporting this route into the workplace.
The credibility of the awards is also bolstered by the roll call of big names who sponsor them, providing more than 100 senior professionals to act as category judges.
The competition will have heats to find the foremost businesses from the three sub-regions of the North East.
Judges will be looking for entries from across the region, from Teesside to the Borders, with competitions running for Tyneside and Northumberland, Durham and Wearside, and Teesside before the regional grand final in which the Company of the Year will be named.
Previous winners have spoken of how the awards raised their profile across the country, inspired pride in their workforces and brought admiration from the business community.
And with a wide range of categories, there is something there for everyone – no matter what size your company, or what sector you operate in.
Of course, the awards would be nothing without an audience and one of the core draws of the event is that more than 2,000 business people will attend one of the four dinners. Successes will also be highlighted to tens of thousands of newspaper and website readers.
Andrew Moffatt, chief executive of Port of Tyne, which won Company of the Year 2013, said: “It was great to have recognition from our peers in business across the North East. Externally, it has helped raise our profile and therefore opened up more business opportunities. Internally, it has provided recognition for all of our employees who have contributed so much to our achievements over the past few years.
“The process of applying over the three years that we entered was challenging, but also very supportive of our own drive towards cultural and transformational change and helped us keep a focus on our programme for growth.
“I would encourage any company of any size thinking of entering to have a go as the process itself is beneficial and the opportunities, if used successfully, as a contender can be very rewarding.”