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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

Voting for the Waitaki Business Awards has officially opened.

Over the next eight weeks, each of the award categories are being put to the public vote in the Oamaru Mail and online. The first category to vote for is best new/emerging business of the year, and there are 21 finalists to chose from.

Organising committee member Annabel Berry was ‘‘thrilled’’ with the number of businesses nominated for the award. The category was open to all new/emerging businesses in the district, not just Business South members.

‘‘We want to encourage and support new business throughout the district — and this is one way of doing that,’’ Mrs Berry said.

‘‘We feel that this is a great way to market and promote your business and show people what you’re doing and how far you’ve come and what you’re achieving.’’

The category had a ‘‘really amazing’’ group of nominees — covering everything from fashion to effluent services — and Mrs Berry encouraged the public to not only vote, but to also find out more about the different businesses and support them.

The category is sponsored by Design Federation, of which Mrs Berry is the creative director.

‘‘It is really important to me to support new and up and coming businesses locally and ensure we have a strong united business community in the future,’’ she said.

‘‘The more we work together, the more we encourage and foster new business growth, the better our community will be.’’

Across all eight categories, 108 businesses have been nominated. The public has until 5pm on June 24 to vote for the best new/emerging business, before voting gets under way for the next category — best hospitality/ tourism business of the year.

Mrs Berry was looking forward to seeing all the votes start coming in, online at business-south.org.nz/waitakibusinessawards and through the Oamaru Mail.

‘‘I really love this event for the local community.’’

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony dinner on August 13. It would be a celebration of Waitaki businesses and produce, she said.

The venue is being finalised and tickets will go on sale in the coming weeks, first to nominated businesses, then to Business South members and the wider public.