These are tense, nervous times for the 25 finalists in the Evening Press Business Awards 2000.

The countdown has begun to Thursday's event - the awards ceremony in which they will at last discover who is the overall winner of the most prestigious business accolade in the region.

A glittering presentation dinner at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York, is the culmination of months of deliberation and research by the judges to whittle down the record number of entries.

And it was a particularly tough job. With the range of categories broadened, the variety and standard was greater than anything the annual competition has seen in the ten years since it was established.

See for yourself by beaming into the Awards News in the business section of our website,, where profiles of many of the entrants appear.

And if you want to study the form for the actual awards night at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York, sneak a peek at the finalists' section which tells you a bit more about these creme de la creme ventures.

Meanwhile, on this page is a list of the finalists in each of the categories.

And, as impressive as the finalists' line-up, is the list of event sponsors, each of whom have themselves achieved excellence.

They are Barclays Bank (Small Business of the Year), North Yorkshire Training and Enterprise Council (Progress Through People Award), Compris (Best Innovative Use of New Technology), Yorkshire Water (Best Environmental Company), York and North Yorkshire Export Forum (Exporter of the Year), Torch Telecom (Growth Business of the Year), Garbutt & Elliott (Business Personality of the Year) and DE Ford insurance brokers (New Business of the Year).

Hosting Thursday's black tie presentation dinner will be BBC Radio York broadcaster Colin Hazelden, the producer and presenter of North Yorkshire Tonight.

He joins fellow broadcaster Harry Gration as guest speaker.