The nomination process has begun for the 2016 Bluffton Business Awards, to be presented at the second annual Bluffton Ball. Both the awards program and the ball are hosted by the Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

The ball, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance and Covert Aire, will be held Jan. 28, 2017, at Pinckney Hall in Sun City Hilton Head.

Last January began a new tradition of awarding local Bluffton area businesses with Golden Oysters during a gala, named the Bluffton Ball.

More than 200 residents, business owners and community leaders attended to enjoy an evening of live music, dinner and awards.

Inaugural award winners honored that evening were: Emmett and Theodora “Teddy” McCracken, Nate Pringle, Jerry Reeves, Ida Martin, Lily Coleman, Sea Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, Beacon Insurance, Programs for Exceptional People, Aunt Laurie’s, Parker’s, Timothy Chase and Mike Reichenbach.

Nominations can be made by the public through Nov. 30 in 12 categories, including a newly created Artist of the Year award. The categories are:

  • Business of the Year: any number of employees
  • Small Business of the Year: fewer than 10 employees
  • Regional Economic Impact Award
  • Non-Profit Organization of the Year
  • Business Startup of the Year
  • Outstanding Person of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Professional Education and Development Person of the Year
  • Good Heart Award
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Memorial Award
  • Artist of the Year

Honorees do not have to be a Chamber of Commerce member, and they only need to live, work, or influence the ZIP code areas 29909, 29910, 29927, or 29936.

Award committee members are working on a new award for 2016 symbolizing “strength.” Colloquially dubbed “The Golden Oysters,” the physical representation of the award promises to again be unique.

“Many communities are becoming divided,” Ron Gray, award committee chairman. “I have been proud to see the continued efforts of local organizations and individuals to overcome challenges together as the Bluffton area continues to grow. This shows the resolve and strength of our community, like the way we have responded after Hurricane Matthew.”

Anyone may submit one or more nominations for deserving organizations and individuals in any or all of the categories.

Nomination forms and descriptions of each award category are available online at wwwBlufftonBusinessAwards.com.

The site also has a list of winners from last year and a full list of sponsors. Business sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Tickets to the Bluffton Ball are $65 to $75 and are available online at www.blufftonball.com.

For more information about the Bluffton Business Awards and the Bluffton Ball, call the Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce at 842-757-1010, visit www.blufftonchamberof commerce.org, or email info@bluffton chamberofcommerce.org.