TODAY we launch the Lancashire Telegraph Business Awards 2011 – the premier event in East Lancashire’s business calendar.

The awards celebrate enterprise at its best and firms and individuals from all sectors are being urged to enter for a chance to be recognised and rewarded for their successes during the past 12 months.

There are 10 categories in all, including the prestigious Business of the Year title, covering all kinds of enterprises and aspects of achievement from innovation and technology to export, deals and environment.

Our team award puts the spotlight on groups of employees who have really made a difference.

The social and community development title applauds firms that put something back into their communities.

An array of the region’s top business names are sponsoring the awards including United Utilities, Blackburn College, BAE Systems, Cobham plc, Napthens and Hyndburn Enterprise Trust.

Entries will be accepted up until Monday, September 12, and the glittering ceremony is at Ewood Park, Blackburn on November 11, hosted by BBC North West Tonight weather presenter Dianne Oxberry and after-dinner speaker, Lancashire consultant physician Dr Kevin Jones.

Lancashire Telegraph editor Kevin Young said: “These awards climax with the largest annual gathering of East Lancashire business people and are the perfect way to celebrate all the hard work and successes of the year.

“Commercial and industrial life has never been easy in this area and the last 12 months have been no exception.

"But we know how enterprising and determined companies are in East Lancashire and there will be some brilliant and inspiring stories to be told.

“The quality of entrants is always excellent and we look forward to recounting their successes and giving them the recognition they so richly deserve in our region.”

Steve Fraser, managing director of operations for United Utilities said: “United Utilities is delighted to be the major sponsor for the 2011 Lancashire Telegraph Business Awards.

"The awards, which are a celebration of all that is great about business in East Lancashire, complement our own programme of support for investing £3.6billion in the local water and wastewater infrastructure.

“We recognise the importance of working closely with local communities and we’re putting great emphasis on a long-term relationship-led approach with our business customers too.”

Click on the link below for our business awards section.