THE ninth Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards were launched on Friday at the Huntingdon Marriott Hotel. The awards grow in size and influence every year and showcase the diverse and dynamic business talent, from the private and public sectors, from across the district. Paul Richardson, founder and chairman of the awards, and Cambridgeshire publisher for Archant, owners of The Hunts Post, made the welcome speech acknowledging the continued input of sponsors, judges and businesses. "We are always looking to make the awards more dynamic and I think we have taken a big step this year we have attracted new sponsors. "The format of the gala dinner will be different this year as well. There will be a chance for people to let their hair down after the formal proceedings. Andy Veale, editor of The Hunts Post, added: "I am already struck by the reputation the awards have created across Huntingdonshire. "The diverse range of quality businesses - as both entrants and sponsors - pays tribute to this event's real success. I look forward to finding out more about the people and the businesses who enter this year's competition." The launch included exhibitions by previous winners including TP Golf Management, EACS Managed Systems Service, Cellbond, manufacturers of crash test barriers and specialists in energy absorption challenges, the Raptor Foundation and Bigprinting.co.uk. Past winners talked about the effects the awards had on their business. David Blows, maintenance manager at the Raptor Foundation, winners of the Sustainable Development award, said: "We haven't had a slack period this year and the awards helped achieve this. When you are in the tourist industry any recognition helps. We were in The Hunts Post and it brings people in." Peter Durham of TP Golf Management, which scooped Business of the Year, Retailer of the Year and Small Business of the Year, said: "Winning these awards has helped us on a number of levels. So many people commented that they saw us in the newspaper - we were even stopped in the aisles at Tesco. "Many people hadn't realised we were there before the press coverage and that brought more people to the range. The awards allowed our staff to feel very proud of what we have achieved and this gives them a strong sense of pride." James Boatwright, of Big-printing.co.uk, winners of the Achievement in Business award, said: "This award has not just brought in small jobs locally, which we welcome, but bigger companies have contacted us as well. This has raised our profile. The award adds credibility to our business and we are eager to win more." Jonathan Djanogly, Conservative MP for Huntingdon said: "This year presents an even bigger challenge - which I am sure will be met. I hope lots of businesses enter." Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP for North Cambridgeshire, added: "I applaud The Hunts Post for facilitating this opportunity. It is an occasion for recognising the enormous hard work of entrepreneurs - often people with an idea, little, if any cash, but the enterprise and determination to bring success." Ian Pask, Marriott general manager east region, said: "We are proud to be hosting the launch of the 2006 Awards. Over the past two years, we have won one category and achieved finalist in several others, and it has been great recognition for the hotel. These awards are a great opportunity to be recognised for best practice.