The Dorchester County Economic Development (DCED) office will hold its first ever Annual Dorchester County Small Business Awards Program to recognize excellence in job creation, community service, workforce development, and innovation in six categories: 1 – 25 Employees; 26 ­– 50 Employees; New Business (less than five years); Legacy Business (operating 20 or more years); Most Innovative Business Concept; and Nonprofit. On-line nominations are being accepted at www.choosedorchester.org/calendar/annual-dcsba/ until October 31.

“As part of Dorchester County’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, adding, “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 can 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, comprised 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 inaugural Annual Dorchester County Small Business Awards Program ceremony and banquet will be held at the Suicide Bridge Restaurant in Hurlock on Monday, December 9, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 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.

For information and tickets, visit www.ChooseDorchester.org or call 410-228-0155.