Hype is building for the 2012 Colorado Springs Excellence in Local Industry Awards and who will be named the best of the best.

Organizers of the annual awards program — which highlights both companies with social or environmental impacts, and businesses on the verge of  technology innovation — are taking nominations now to Aug. 17.

This year, the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC partnered with the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs’ El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization to host the awards program.

“The purpose of the event is to showcase the great things that companies are doing here – to let everyone know what is happening in our own backyard,” said Jennifer Taylor, vice president of local industry of the Chamber/EDC.

The awards program was started seven years ago as a way to showcase trend-setting leaders in diverse industry fields.

Past winners have included Colorado Springs’ top companies Chromatic Technologies Inc, which specializes in color-changing inks, and Altia, a software company that specializes in touch-screen technology.

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Such primary employers are the heartbeat of the business community, said Michael Larson, chairman of the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization. Winners of this year’s awards will be announced Oct. 16 at The Broadmoor hotel.

Larson recalls a 2006 article which named Colorado Springs one of the best cities to live in. He interpreted that as Colorado Springs is a place with vision, talent and entrepreneurial spirit, he said.

“There is no shortage of people who want that environment,” he said. “If we are going to grow into who we want to be, we need to appreciate and celebrate forward-thinking businesses.”

The Excellence in Local Industry Awards will recognize a company that goes beyond philanthropy with company operations to include economic, social and environmental benefits with the Corporate Social Responsibility Award. Other categories include the Business Climate Award, Company to Watch, Pioneer Award, Manufacturing Company of the Year and Local Industry Chairperson Award.

Taylor is hoping for a record number of nominations, saying that these awards give local companies broad exposure with opportunities to meet potential vendors, clients and strategic partners.

Nominate companies at EPIICEDCAwardsCompanyNominationForm2012.