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During the most normal of times, the work of doing business is complex and can be challenging, and the sheer resilience and determination shown by some, many across the Black County, has been truly awe-inspiring.

These last 12 months have further compounded long standing issues, yet almost everybody I’ve spoken to has been able to rise to the challenge.

As part of the now “double jabbed club”, I join thousands across the region who have now been vaccinated and am looking forward to ‘what’s next?’

With businesses now starting to reopen and welcome back customers and colleagues, our towns, cities, high streets and workplaces are getting busier, and people are looking forward to catching up with friends, family and colleagues in many of our great hospitality venues, cultural and leisure facilities or over a coffee during a work break. Whilst we are not out of the woods yet, light at least from many directions is starting to shine at us through the branches.

Here at the Chamber, we have much to celebrate and look forward to also.

On the back of the 20th anniversary since the formal creation of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce last month, we welcome new members to our thriving business community and hope your time with us will be a long and rewarding one – you’re in amazing company and part of a legacy which stretches back centuries.

Whilst the next few months will be a process of reconnecting with contacts and sectors, our Black Country 2.0 campaign continues to both celebrate the best our businesses and amplify our collective voice to ensure that we are not overlooked, our events programme continues to welcome virtual visitors and our training programmes and the newly established Director and Board Development series ensures that leaders and colleagues have the latest insights and skills to make a difference.

I also urge you to keep a look out for Visit Black Country, a new service launching soon which will showcase the best of our region and support the visitor economy and hospitality sector.

Whatever you are doing to celebrate this renewed sense of optimism, please make sure that you continue to follow guidance and keep yourself and others safe.