The E3 Business Awards were launched at a time when the UK and North West regional economies had been hampered by the global financial crisis. Now, as conditions continue to improve, we look to the region's entrepreneurs and innovators to help accelerate our economic recovery - an undertaking that will require determination, a strong enterprising spirit and a real investment in enterprise, education and employment.
It will also require commitment from every sector and community so it is vital that we work together and make the most of our collective strengths as a region.
Happily, there are already many companies that are demonstrating exactly this kind of commitment; businesses and individuals from many different cultures and communities that have set an example by investing in the future. These are the ones that did not merely look to tighten their belts when times were hard; they grew their businesses, created new jobs and demonstrated their faith in the next generation through apprenticeships, training programmes and close ties with the education sector.
The E3 Business Awards set out to recognise these enterprising and forward-looking organisations; the entrepreneurs and educators from across the North West who are working hard today to lead the return to regional prosperity.
The North West has certain traditional strengths but it is also developing new ones as entrepreneurs from different educational, commercial and cultural backgrounds contribute their skills and expertise to the regional melting pot. This ever-changing mix is generating new market opportunities all the time.
If the North West is to make the most of such opportunities, it must recognise, support and bring together all its various strengths: entrepreneurial energy, technical expertise, commercial acumen and much else besides. It must also appreciate that these qualities do not reside exclusively within one single group or blue-chip business elite. They can be found in all our communities – and the E3 Business Awards are there to celebrate them.
The North West region needs a multicultural awards scheme to provide a platform on which ideas, information and opportunities can be shared freely, and upon which beneficial new partnerships and collaborative projects can be built.