A RECORD number of companies has submitted entries for this year's Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards, for which judging is about to start. The level and quality of entries surprised even veteran chairman Paul Richardson, editor of The Hunts Post when the awards began 12 years ago and now editorial director of the paper's parent company Archant Herts & Cambs. "The fact that so many companies have entered this year is extremely encouraging. It demonstrates first the regard in which these awards are held among the Huntingdonshire business community and, secondly, that the local economy has proved robust to recessionary trends elsewhere in the economy," he said. "We have always believed that the amazing diversity of business activities here offered some protection against sectoral downturns, and this seems to be borne out even in the context of a wider national recession." And the quality of the entries is already impressing the judges, who have just started the process of short-listing. John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Chambers of Commerce and chairman of the independent panel of judges, said: "Our first sift of the entries suggests that most are of an extremely high standard, and it will be very rewarding to visit the short-listed entrants." Once the short lists have been compiled, the judges for each category will visit each of the people or companies on the lists. The winners will be declared at the black-tie awards ceremony at the Burgess Hall, St Ives, on Friday evening November 6. The awards programme is sponsored by Archant Herts & Cambs and Huntingdonshire District Council. The individual categories are: New Business Award, sponsored by Haines Watts, chartered accountants of Huntingdon Employee of the Year Award, sponsored by Anglian Water Retailer of the Year Award, sponsored by D H Barford & Co, St Neots-based property specialists Environment\/Community Award, sponsored by the Environment Agency Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses Huntingdonshire Branch Innovation Award, sponsored by Greater Cambridge Partnership Business Website of the Year Award, sponsored by Huntingdonshire District Council, which is also supporting all awards Training and Development Award, sponsored by Huntingdonshire Regional College Employer of the Year Award, sponsored by Luminus Group, Huntingdon-based social landlords Business Person of the Year Award, sponsored by Leeds Day, solicitors with branches across Huntingdonshire The overall winner of the Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Cambridgeshire County Council, will be chosen by the judges as the best of the winners of the eight corporate categories.