Celebrating the best . . . Looking forward to the 2022 Waitaki Business Awards are organising committee members (from left) Greg Webster, Rebecca Finlay, Annabel Berry and Cara Tipping Smith. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

New and emerging businesses are receiving the most attention as nominations close for the 2022 Waitaki Business Awards today.

Business South Waitaki navigator Rebecca Finlay, who is part of the awards organising committee, said the response to the awards had so far been ‘‘really good’’.

‘‘We’ve had lots of interest, lots of nominations.’’

Nominations for the awards on August 13 officially opened last month.

The event will build on the success of last year’s Oamaru Business Collective Awards night, which was restricted to 100 people due to Covid-19.

The Business Collective has now merged with Business South for a group of 200 members.

The organising committee had decided to open up the new/emerging business category to non-members, who, in their first three years, might not have the funds to be a member of Business South.

‘‘Those first few years are really challenging, so the fact that these businesses are thriving in this kind of current/post-Covid environment, thriving enough to impress people to sort of deliberately select them out, is really cool,’’ Mrs Finlay said.

People could nominate and vote for their favourite businesses either through the Business South website or in person at the Oamaru Mail office.

About 12 new businesses had been nominated by early this week, and those businesses all had multiple nominations each, she said.

Voting for the category would open next Friday, with one category being voted on per week. There was one vote per person, and voting was open to anyone, Mrs Finlay said.

‘‘We encourage people to think about all facets of the business, and what it is about a business that really speaks to them.

‘‘So, if they’ve impressed them, because they have fantastic customer service, or they really have a focus on sustainability, or they’re excellent employers — all the areas that make a business a shining example —we invite the voters to consider them.

‘‘They’re voting for sectors —so they’re voting for trade, or they’re voting for professional service — but the ways those businesses excel can be varied . . . think about what their culture is, what their value is, or what they contribute or bring to the Waitaki.

‘‘How do they shape our region for the better?’’

Planning for the awards night was progressing, and the committee was in the process of negotiating a large enough venue, to accommodate all the businesses nominated, Mrs Finlay said.

It was also in discussions with local caterers, about creating a menu that ‘‘champions food produced by the Waitaki’’.