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The categories and those contending each of them are as follows:

Business of the Year, sponsored by NatWest: This is the premier award in Wigan Borough’s business year.

The company must have a turnover of at least £1m a year and must be able to demonstrate a successful track record of excellence and achievement.

Judges are looking for companies of any size, working in any commercial or industrial sector with success measured in growth, increased trading profit, new product/service development and new production techniques.

Shortlist: Belmont Packaging, Karas Industries Ltd, Lowri Beck, White Arrow Logistics

Family Business of the Year, sponsored by Jackson Stephen Chartered Accountants: This award will recognise and celebrate the unique contribution family businesses have made to Wigan Borough’s economy, history and culture.

The judging panel will look at areas including family dynamics, length of trading, contribution to the local economy, special achievements, contribution to the community and the promotion of the area outside of the region.

This award will look for a family business that is not only successful, but that is also proud of its local roots and that works to make the region proud of it.

Shortlist: Link Contracting, Petzone, Gallimore’s

Small or Medium Enterprise of the Year, sponsored by PA Hull Chartered Accountants: The award seeks to recognise an SME or enterprise from any industry that has been operating for at least two years.

Innovation, expertise and imagination are just some of the qualities that will help firms become shortlisted and ultimately win this award together with a solid vision for the future growth of the company.

Shortlist: DOC Solar and Electrical Solutions, Prospect Brewery Ltd, Saturn Visual Solutions Ltd

We’re Backing Wigan Award, sponsored by Lancashire Publications: This award will recognise the business which has not only secured publicity for itself but has helped to raise the profile of Wigan borough.

A firm from any sector and of any size, the judges will be looking for a business or organisation which understands the importance of its local area and which is aiming to help the borough ride the gloom of the current recession.

Shortlist: Motor Start, Lowri Beck, Gallimore’s

Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Rose Bridge High School: The winner will clearly demonstrate his/her business idea, giving evidence of a well researched business plan and forecasts for business performance.

The Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 may not yet, in the opinion of the judges, have achieved full potential but will demonstrate a well defined and innovative vision for the future.

This award is open to start up businesses as well as more established businesses alike.

Shortlist: Heaven Scent, Training 2 All, Fashion PA Boutique

Employer Supporting Apprentices Award, sponsored by ProCo. NW Ltd: This award seeks to applaud the efforts of those businesses and organisations who have demonstrated a commitment to recruiting and training the borough’s young people by providing access to nationally recognised qualifications, particularly Apprenticeships or Advanced Apprenticeships.

Shortlisted companies will need to have a track record of recruitment and the provision of support for the learner.

Shortlist: Link Contracting, RSPCA

Exporting/International Trade Award, sponsored by Arbour Shipping: Recognising the strength of British business overseas this category focuses on international trade asking for details of research used, challenges identified and how your business has adapted to those challenges.

As the global economy becomes increasingly important this is the perfect category to show how you stand out in the International arena.

The judges will be looking for dedicated activity in this arena and in particular: research, developing existing markets, expanding into new markets, training and languages.

Shortlist: Advanced Food Safety, Create Creative Consultant Ltd

Environmental Award, sponsored by Hughes Bros: This award seeks to recognise companies that have identified the need for innovative environmental changes in their industry or sector, showing commitment to overcome all changes and realising the potential for further business opportunity.

The winner will need to demonstrate how the need for change was identified, how the workforce was involved, how the outcome was achieved, in full or in part, and where the market place has been influenced by the changes.

Shortlist: DOC Solar & Electrical Solutions, Gallimores, Energy North West

Start-up Enterprise of the Year:This category is open to all enterprises based in Wigan, which have been trading for less than two years up to August 2011. They may be either traditional profit-making businesses or social enterprises, working in the public sector or commercial markets.

The panel will be looking for innovative enterprises with creativity and entrepreneurial flair, with a capacity for realising their business vision, backed by sound planning strategies.

Shortlist: Active Synergy, School Lettings Solutions, Need HQ Ltd

Independent Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Wigan and Leigh College: This award will recognise retailers that offer exemplary service and add an extra dimension to shopping in Wigan.

The judges will be looking for companies that have been prepared to show initiative to thrive in difficult circumstances, showing real commitment to their local area.

Shortlist: The Royal Perfumery, Symphony Tech Ltd, Fashion PA Boutique