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The Oamaru Business Collective wants to celebrate the best businesses in town.

Today is the official launch of the Oamaru Business Collective Awards – the first event of its kind in North Otago.

Chairwoman Cara Tipping Smith said the Oamaru Business Collective committee wanted to create something positive for the town during the winter months, and bring the business and wider community together.

Ms Tipping Smith was thrilled to launch the inaugural awards, backed by the Oamaru Mail, which would celebrate and promote the Oamaru’s business community. It would also acknowledge the challenges for businesses post-lockdown, but more importantly, recognise their strength, aptitude and resilience.

The six categories are: best new/emerging business, best hospitality business, best trade, best professional service, best shop and best customer service personality. Nominations will open on July 30 and voting would start from August 20.

Ms Tipping Smith said the collective was “super excited” anticipating the nominations.

It will culminate with an awards evening on October 2 – “a real celebration, bringing all the businesses together”.

The awards are open to Oamaru Business Collective members. At present, the collective has 54 local businesses registered, representing a range of sectors – from health practitioners to the trades.

Businesses wanting to sign up to the collective to be eligible for the awards have two weeks from today to do so.

The awards were an opportunity for existing members to get excited, and to encourage other businesses to join the collective and get involved in the business community more broadly, Ms Tipping Smith said.

“We believe that together . . . we have a voice for promoting our town, but also for lobbying in the interests of business – so the more people we have, the better,” she said.

“We can all work together to make a difference.”

The collective, which was formed in 2019, hosts monthly social networking events, and organises other events throughout the year, such as Shoptober. Last year, it became an incorporated society, with a paid annual subscription.

“That allows us to do more, and the collaborative spirit also means we can make more of every opportunity that comes through our town,” she said.

While it was named the Oamaru Business Collective, membership was open to all Waitaki businesses. Membership forms are available on the Oamaru Business Collective Facebook page.