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THE Dorset Business Awards 2017 are now open for entry.

Sponsors and more than 100 key members of the business community were at the launch at the Italian Villa at Compton Acres.

Organised by Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo, the awards are also backed by radio station Wave 105.

The 12 categories include five new ones: Business Leader of the Year, Dorset Brand of the Year, Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships, Young Chamber Award and Exporter of the Year.

Categories are as follows:

Creative and Digital Impact Award, sponsored by Liz Lean PR and Dorset LEP (Dorset LEP new co-sponsor).

Francis Clark Family Business Award.

Investing in Dorset Award, sponsored by UK Health Insurance.

Lester Aldridge and Santander Company of the Year Award.

Retail and Leisure Experience Award, sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre.

n Team of the Year Award, sponsored by TeamJobs.

n Business Leader of the Year, sponsored by Pure Networking and DCCI.

n Brand of the Year, sponsored by RT Brand Communications.

n Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships Award, sponsored by Sunseeker International.

Outstanding Customer Service Award, sponsored by Beales Gourmet and UK Luxury Care (new co-sponsors).

The Young Chamber Award, sponsored by Blue Sky Financial Planning (new award category).

UK Exporter of the Year, sponsored by REID Steel (new award category).

The awards are free to enter and entrants will need to complete and submit an entry online by Sunday September 3. The awards ceremony is on Thursday, November 23, at the BIC.

For the first time, individuals and businesses can nominate other deserving companies via the website to encourage them to enter.

Ian Girling, chief executive at Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The Dorset Business Awards are the region’s recognition platform that elevates distinguished organisations above the rest. Entering the awards is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and promote the accomplishments that your company has worked hard to achieve.

“With five new award categories for this year, there really is something for everyone to enter whether you are from a large or small organisation, an entrepreneur or passionate employee. The awards cover a broad spectrum of categories in order to demonstrate the diverse range of talent and excellence that is present within our business community.”

Visit dorsetbusinessawards.co.uk or contact Stuart Dixon on 01202 714810.