Northwest Food Processors Education and Research Institute and the Hitachi Foundation are jointly offering the 2012 Food Processing Workforce Pioneer Awards for food companies with facilities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The award recognizes employers whose success is built on developing opportunities for economic advancement for their lower-income employees in production, packaging, sanitation and other non-managerial positions.

The awards will go to employers in the food industry who make a difference for their employees and shareholders and go beyond the traditional concept of "best places to work," according to an institute press release. They have built successful competitive strategies by harnessing the talents and skills of their entire workforce, especially their front-line workers.

A task force of industry leaders will work with ERI and Hitachi Foundation staff in selecting the employers that will be awarded during the 98th Annual NW Food Manufacturing and Packaging Expo and Conference next January.

Nominations can be made at www.nwfpa.org/nominations. The deadline is Oct. 31. For more information, visit the Food Processing Pioneer Employers website at www.nwfpa.org/eri/pioneer-employers or contact Rosi Marshall, senior program manager, at rmarshall@nwfpa.org.

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