2017 Express & Star Business Awards 2017: Editor KEITH HARRISON on why it's vital we celebrate local firms

We have always understood the importance of local businesses – large and small – to the community we all serve, writes Express & Star Editor Keith Harrison.

After more than 140 years the Express & Star can claim to be one of the longest-running businesses in the area. It has reported on the highs and lows of local life for generations of families.

Our roots are deep, and we have always understood the importance of local businesses – large and small – to the community we all serve, writes Express & Star Editor Keith Harrison.

That is why we originally launched our annual Business Awards – to celebrate all that is great about companies in the West Midlands.

From their skilled and talented people to their ability to innovate and adapt to changing times, new technologies and the challenges of trading around the world, our firms prove every day that there is much worth celebrating.
That is why it gives me huge pleasure to be able to launch the Express & Star's Business Awards for 2017.

As in previous years, this event will bring together both the private and public sectors of our community to mark the contribution of business to our area, both in terms of their economic benefits and the role they play in simply making life better.

We look back on a year that has seen the business community coming to terms with major changes as it faces the constant struggle to maintain much-needed growth in our economy.

The result of the EU referendum and a dramatic change in government in the United States both bring challenges and opportunities.

At such a time we can only express our gratitude at the loyalty and support that has been shown to our awards event by so many of its external sponsors.

Nine of the 10 companies and organisations involved this year have returned after previous service as sponsors – several of them have been with us from the start.

Our warmest thanks go Aspray24, Carvers Building Supplies, Higgs & Sons, BDO, Jaguar Land Rover, City of Wolverhampton Council, UTC Aerospace Systems, ArchOver and Altodigital for continuing to make this the premier business event in our region.

And I would like to express our particular delight at welcoming our newest sponsor, the Black Country Chamber of Commerce - The Platinum Group, which will be supporting our search for the Customer Service Champion.

My thanks also go to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre who are once again sponsoring the drinks reception at the awards night, and to Yarrington, who produce the event.

Without the support of all these people our awards would not be possible.

And our 10 main sponsors will also be playing a crucial role in judging the finalists for this year's awards. They will be joining us on the site visits that form a vital part of the process, helping us select those firms that represent the very best of local business.

It is those companies and business people who put themselves forward for these awards who are, of course, what the event is all about.

The Express & Star Business Awards provide an unrivalled opportunity for local companies to fly the flag and highlight the role they play in all our lives. I urge every business to seize this opportunity and enter the competition. We look forward to hearing from you.