THE Echo-backed South Coast Business Awards, complete with new logo and new categories, were launched yesterday at St Mary’s Stadium, home of Southampton Football Club.

Presiding over the kick-off was Laura Bielinski, sales director for LOCALiQ, the Echo’s new digital business-to – business brand.

Laura welcomed guests, long-time supporters of the awards, Business South and Destination Southampton, and new main sponsors Dutton Gregory, as well as category sponsors Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Smith & Williamson, M12 Solutions and Taylor Made Computer Solutions

Without using the dreaded ‘B-word’ Laura said: “For the many businesses facing challenges in these times of uncertainly, we have many businesses on the south coast where uncertainly has not deterred them... they are more driven and focused than ever before, they have been innovative and creative in ensuring that the south continues to prosper, and their business continues to flourish. These are the business in the room today and whom we want to be nominated for the awards.”

“We continue to see business in action – the cranes on the skyline and the arrival of majestic cruise ships arriving at the docks – but the aim of these awards is also to give a platform to the unheralded success stories of firms doing great things in their offices, workshops and business units which might otherwise go unnoticed.

Dutton Gregory managing partner Andrew Tilley said he was looking for ward to looking to taking part in the selection procedure and meeting the entrants

“These awards promote businesses with great products and services and recognise their hard working staff. Best of luck to all those who enter.”

Paula Bradly, group business development director from last year’s Business of the Year, Brymor Construction, then took the mic to explain the benefits of entering.

“Initially we entered the award to raise our profile in the area but it was so much more than that – it gave the opportunity to shout about ourselves,” she said.

“Winning was big bonus for company morale. We thanked every member of staff personally with a thank-you note and a gift.

“It was also great for PR and was great for our social media profile and branding.”

She ended her speech by urging other companies to “Go for it!”

The award are now open and this year we have made them easier and quicker to enter. Closing date for nominations will be June 3.

The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony at St Mary’s Stadium on July 11, which will be compered by public speaking guru Jeremy Edwards.

The keynote speaker on the night will be Jez Rose, broadcaster, award-winning author and honeybee farmer, whose reputation as a business speaker and broadcaster is built on his ability to explore complicated topics in an accessible way with tremendous honesty, clarity, warmth and humour.

Over the next few weeks we will be profiling each category. In the mean time for more details about the awards visit