A field of 20 businesses have been chosen as finalists in the ACU Whanganui Chamber of Commerce Regional Business Awards to be announced at a gala dinner on October 15.

Entries closed a month ago and chamber president Raewyn Overton-Stuart said the chamber was "delighted" the calibre of the finalists.

Ms Overton-Stuart said the chamber would not divulge how many entries it had received overall "in line with policy of other chambers we spoke to".

"But what I can say if the judging panel was hugely impressed with the calibre of the entries we received."


She said some businesses considered entering this year but had postponed that until the 2017 awards.

"Some of those were businesses still recovering from the impact of the 2015 floods," she said.

There are eight category awards and the ACU supreme winner will be chosen from those finalists.

Categories include hospitality, tourism, retail, manufacturing and distribution, professional services, small business, trade services and suppliers, and digital.

There are also two special category awards. One is for the best emerging business (businesses in existence for less than two financial years) and the other for not-for-profit enterprises which enhance the quality of life of the wider community.

Meanwhile the chamber has named Marianne Archibald as its new chief executive officer.

Ms Archibald has a background in law, strategic planning, economic development and digital strategies and until recently had been working with the Whanganui District Council rolling out its digital strategy.

Ms Overton-Stuart said the chamber was impressed with Ms Archibald's ability to get Whanganui into the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world and felt that her vision was just what the chamber was looking for.

The chamber moved away from its connection with Business Central in Wellington over 18 months ago after deciding that the organisation needed to be locally operated to ensure the best results for members.

"The appointment of a CEO to lead the organisation and build local capacity is a necessary step to making that happen." Ms Overton-Stuart said.

Ms Archibald said she was excited to be in the new role and that she feels strongly about Whanganui's success as a community.