City can be proud of 2012 awards finalists
ONCE again the Express & Echo Business Awards have shone the spotlight on some of the outstanding entrepreneurs and companies whose success is vital to the city's economic recovery.
Following the popularity of last year's inaugural event, the second annual competition attracted a bumper crop of entries from businesses representing a wide variety of sectors across Exeter and the Heart of Devon.
Around 110 contenders put themselves forward for judging in 12 categories, ranging from Business of the Year to Corporate Social Responsibility.
These hopefuls were whittled down to 41 finalists, after careful consideration by an independent panel of judges from the local business community, during a marathon session at the Exeter offices of awards sponsors Coutts bank.
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The challenge of selecting the shortlist was accepted by Peter Blatchford, managing partner at Coutts in Exeter; Andrew Blair, managing director of South West Media Group; Michelle Hale, project coordinator for Exeter Science Park; Harry Langley, managing director of main sponsors South West Communications Group; Pete Tomlinson, head of sales and marketing at Eclipse Internet; and South Western Society of Chartered Accountants president Lucinda Penn, of Francis Clark LLP.
Harry, who was helping to judge the awards for the second year running, said: "This year was a step up in terms of the quality of entrants. A year has gone by and people are now more used to what is required so it made the judges' decision-making process a lot harder.
"When you get down to the final two or three the differences are minute and it's very difficult to make a final decision.
"Nevertheless it's great that we have that diversity and quality of businesses in the locality promoting Exeter as a centre of commerce in the South West.
"It never ceases to amaze me how wide and varied Exeter businesses can be. All sorts of companies come out of the woodwork and it's fantastic. In these current times of doom and gloom it's so important to get the good news stories out there and show that Exeter is a good place to live, but it's also a fantastic place to do business."
Reflecting on the judging process, Michelle added: "It demonstrated the variety and diversity of businesses operating in the Exeter area and the number of businesses actually growing as well, which is brilliant."
The 2012 award winners will be announced at a gala dinner and ceremony at Sandy Park on Friday, April 27. On the night a special Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented to an individual selected by the judges.