The largest-ever Birmingham Post Business Awards has been launched in response to an upturn in fortunes for companies in the region.
The West Midlands' premier business event is heading back to the ICC on November 26, with 800 businesspeople set to attend the city's major festival of business.
This year's event will be themed around "Birmingham bouncing back" in light of a major 12 months of growth which have seen more people in work and the local economy in growth.
Latest data shows:
* There are 56,000 fewer people out of work in the West Midlands than a year ago - the lowest number since the summer of 2008.
* There are 108,000 more people in employment than five years ago in this region.
* This remains the only region with an export surplus with China - which trebled to £1.7 billion last year.
* Sales to foreign shores grew by more than any other region. There was an 18.4 per cent rise last year. In recent years, the UK would have seen exports fall without the West Midlands and the region is careering towards a total export surplus.
* The best company in the country is based here. Jaguar Land Rover continues to break record after record, ably supported by a supplier base, half of which is based here.
* Foreign investment created 29 per cent more jobs last year.
* There are currently almost 350 foreign investment prospects, many of which are attracted by growth in skilled areas like life sciences, advanced manufacturing, digital and creative.
* More tourists and more people in our hotels.
The 2014 business awards were launched at a special event last night, with the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Wesleyan and Turkish Airlines already lined up as sponsors.
The awards - which has its own dedicated website at www.bpbusinessawards.co.uk - will be celebrated across the Post's platforms, with companies urged to share success stories on Twitter under the hashtag #brumbouncesback.
Post editor Stacey Barnfield urged companies in the region to get nominating.
He said: "It is often said this is a region that hides its light under a bushel but the West Midlands is at the forefront of a reignited economy and we should celebrate that.
"We want businesses big and small to nominate themselves, and encourage others to, in order to showcase the real stories behind a year of growth.
"This year's business awards will without question be the biggest ever. There are so many stories out there to be proud of, so share them with us."
Nominations for the awards must relate to the last financial year - 2013 to 2014.
The different categories include small business, manufacturing, environmental, legal, finance, communications, outstanding professional, property, technology and digital, retail, company of the year and the lifetime achievement award.
Being shortlisted is a great way to raise your company's profile as its achievements will be highlighted in front of hundreds of the city's movers and shakers on the night of the awards.
Hannah Brueton, from last year's Company Of The Year Top Banana, said it had boosted the business.
She said: "We entered the Birmingham Post Business Awards as we believe it's key to support and encourage the reputation of local business to the wider community.
"We enter as we are keen to test our standing locally and how we measure up against the competition within the West Midlands creative hub. We are also committed to growing and attracting local talent and believe winning helps this.
"As a small business we recognise building an industry reputation takes time. We burned the midnight oil to complete our entries last year and were pleased with the final results."
Midlands-based accountants and business advisers Jerroms is sponsoring the finance category of the Birmingham Post's much acclaimed Business Awards for the third year running.
Business advice provided by Jerroms includes identifying the appropriate sources of growth finance, making introductions and presenting business plans and budgets to secure successful fundraising.
Managing partner Mark Eden said: "These are exciting times as the recovery gathers pace. Finance remains the lifeblood of business and the need to obtain it and secure the right mix of finance is paramount.
"New challenges are presented by the prospect of higher interest rates and the need to finance extra debtors and inventories as a result of a growth in orders.
"Such factors make it even more vital for businesses to take the right professional advice as early as possible."
Last year's Emerging Professional category winner Paul Ellis of Deutsche Bank added: "It was a bit of a shock when I got shortlisted and it was an even bigger surprise to win.
"I said at the time I think the reason I won was due to the strong international links I had developed and, being part of Deutsche Bank in Birmingham, I am lucky to be exposed to international trading on a daily basis.
"The next big move for us is moving into our new building at Five Brindleyplace which will see the trading divisions come to even greater prominence and I believe is a really positive move for Birmingham to develop its international role as a financial centre of excellence."
The success will also feature in a special post-awards supplement in the Birmingham Post.
And for those companies who would like to get involved in this year's awards by becoming a sponsor, there is a wealth of opportunities.
Becoming a sponsor, you can expect to receive a full range of editorial and advertising benefits - in print, online and at the event.
• To discuss sponsorship options or for more information contact Andy George on 0121 234 5476 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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