Cherwell Business Awards aim to celebrate local enterprise

The launch of the Cherwell Business of the Year Awards at Norbar, Banbury. From the left, Adrian Lockwood, Oxfordshire LEP, Ben Jackson, Bicester Chamber of Commerce, Placi Espjo, chair Cherwell Business Awards, Cllr. Lynn Pratt, Economic Development portfolio, CDC, Julia Aratoon, CDC and Neill Brodey, MD, Norbar. NNL-160111-101743009

The launch of the Cherwell Business of the Year Awards at Norbar, Banbury. From the left, Adrian Lockwood, Oxfordshire LEP, Ben Jackson, Bicester Chamber of Commerce, Placi Espjo, chair Cherwell Business Awards, Cllr. Lynn Pratt, Economic Development portfolio, CDC, Julia Aratoon, CDC and Neill Brodey, MD, Norbar. NNL-160111-101743009

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The Cherwell Business Awards (CBAs)are now accepting applications for next year’s competition and are looking for that special enterprise to be crowned Cherwell Business of the Year 2017.

Now in their sixth year the awards have burgeoned and cover ten categories that a business can either be nominated for or enter themselves.

The launch of the Cherwell Business of the Year Awards at Norbar, Banbury. Keith Houliston, sales director, British Bakels Ltd, Bicester, 2015 Cherwell Business of the Year winner. NNL-160111-101915009

The launch of the Cherwell Business of the Year Awards at Norbar, Banbury. Keith Houliston, sales director, British Bakels Ltd, Bicester, 2015 Cherwell Business of the Year winner. NNL-160111-101915009

This year the independently-run award organisers invited sponsors, business owners and previous winners to an official launch event held at Norbar Torque Tool’s new headquarters on Wildmere Road on Tuesday.

Placi Espejo, chairperson of the awards committee, said: “We started as a small group to try to celebrate local businesses.

“We wanted to kind of filter some of the local businesses in to the Oxfordshire Business Award, so in fact anyone that is a finalist to our awards gets entered into the Oxfordshire Business Awards.”

She added: “We have received more and more applications with the years and we cover awards from small to new, to micro business to established ones.”

The launch of the Cherwell Business of the Year Awards at Norbar, Banbury. Neill Brodey, MD Norbar. NNL-160111-101811009

The launch of the Cherwell Business of the Year Awards at Norbar, Banbury. Neill Brodey, MD Norbar. NNL-160111-101811009

In fact the CBAs now incorporate award categories celebrating excellence in everything from Apprenticeship of the Year to Innovation and Creativity and businesses with a focus on charitable and community-based initiatives.

The award’s success and gravitas within the business community has meant that a wealth of sponsors and local industry leaders have got behind them with this year’s headline sponsor being Cherwell District Council.

Julia Aratoon , economic growth officer with CDC and deputy chair of the awards committee , said: “ We’re headline sponsor and the reason we have done that is to recognise the strength of the economy and businesses we have in the district. “Obviously we want to showcase that and give the businesses the opportunity to go through to the Oxfordshire Business Awards.”

The awards launch comes just two weeks after Banbury town centre reached the final stages of the Great British High Street competition and there is a demonstrable crossover of the two celebratory awards.

Julia said: “I think the important thing for the public to understand about the Great British High Street competition is this is about the journey of Banbury.

“No one is pretending it doesn’t have a few empty units but it’s in a really, really good place and we’ve had some interesting pop-ups and things like the night market, by all accounts, have been a success.”

Aside from bragging rights winning a business award can have numerous positive knock on effects. Previous winner Adrian Lockwood, who won with Integration Technology and is now deputy head of OxLEP, said: “It was very good in raising our profile locally which is very useful in recruiting. It’s very difficult to recruit the right people.

“We live in an area of almost no unemployment and therefore it’s competitive in the labour market so it means when someone comes along for an interview they can see the award and think ‘that’s someone I want to work for’.”

Nominations can be submitted until December 31 while applications can be made until January 31 2017 at www.cherwellbusinessawards.co.uk.