Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative, a national program to help small businesses compete more effectively, has selected one local man and two other Utahns to be state judges.

Mark J. Stoddard of the Jefferson Institute, Provo; R. Thayne Robson, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research; and David Nimkin, executive director of the Utah Small Business Development Center, Salt Lake City, will join 185 state judges and state Chambers of Commerce participating in the program.The Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative will seek, learn from and recognize small businesses that have overcome obstacles and emerged stronger by effectively managing key resources. The ultimate goal of the program is to package case histories of small-business management and disseminate them to small-business owners across the country through participating Chambers of Commerce.

The Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce has joined the initiative, which is sponsored by Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. and endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the country's largest circulation monthly business magazine, Nation's Business.

"The initiative is relatively new in terms of concept," Provo/Orem Chamber President Steve Densley said. "We will be picking and choosing potential nominees to submit for awards."

Stoddard's job will be to judge the nominees.

"People submit ideas, proposals and business plans to us, and we will be selecting winners for entrepreneurial awards," Stoddard said. "We will be examining the businesses' accomplishments and objectives of their business, their ethics and integrity.

"We are looking at businesses from a market perspective. Some (business) awards are given because they (the businesses) are pretty or nice. But, we're giving them because they work."

Hundreds of small businesses around the country have requested applications, and nearly 600 local and state Chambers of Commerce are participating in the program.

State judges will evaluate award applicants and select up to four exemplary businesses from each state. These companies will be listed in Nation's Business. From these approximately 200 state designees, one firm from each state will be selected for national consideration and spotlighted on "Nation's Business Today," seen daily on cable television.

In addition, companies will be profiled in a video library on small-business management.

To be eligible, the company must employ between five and 300 people, and have been in continuous operation for at least three years. Applications must be received by Jan. 31. Interested small businesses can receive additional information and applications by calling 1-800-AWARD-91.