CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County Economic Development office announced Thursday, Oct. 3, the first ever Dorchester County Small Business Awards Program, recognizing excellence in job creation, community service, workforce development and innovation. Nominations are accepted online until Oct. 31.

Six categories will be offered: one to 25 employees; 26 to 50 employees; new business, less than five years; legacy business, operating 20 or more years; most innovative business concept; and nonprofit.

“As part of Dorchester’s strategic plan for economic development adopted in January, the Economic Development Advisory and county councils wanted to shine an annual spotlight on local county businesses for outstanding achievements in job creation, workforce development and community service,” said DCED Director Keasha Haythe. “By recognizing and celebrating business achievements, we hope to offer insight and inspiration to our business community while promoting their many positive accomplishments.”

Eligible nominees include any business or organization operating in Dorchester County. Any individual may submit a nomination — including employees or owners of the business — and there is no entry fee. An individual may nominate as many as one business in each of the six categories.

A seven-member awards committee, made of community and business leaders, will review nomination forms and select up to six awardees next month. Nomination criteria include customer service, employee appreciation, and community service. The committee includes Valerie Brown, David Deluca, Amanda Fenstermaker, Nancy Shockley, Lingan Spicer, Tracy Tyler and Pat Wielgosz.

The ceremony and banquet will be held at the Suicide Bridge Restaurant in Hurlock from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9. Committee member Pat Wielgosz will serve as the master of ceremonies. Tickets to the awards dinner are $37 each and include an open buffet with crab cakes, roast beef, chicken, vegetables and dessert. Winners will be notified in advance, but not announced until the awards ceremony.

To nominate a business or for more information about the award dinner, go to www.choosedorches

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