Colors: Purple Color

Trading Standards in Sandwell are now using sniffer dogs to detect illegal tobacco. Raids by Sandwell Trading Standards have uncovered 160,000 cigarettes and 61kg of tobacco worth around £100,000.  The illegal products were seized at premises across Sandwell by officers working with highly trained tobacco detection dogs to sniff out illegal tobacco.

A grant scheme that helps businesses across the West Midlands invest in innovative new products has been hailed a success by an independent evaluation. Successfully managed by Birmingham City Council, the Business Innovation Programme (BIP) is an £8.7m programme of business support, part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is expected to create and safeguard over 600 jobs, significantly over its target of 350.

The foremost organisation representing the timber trade in the UK has officially signed up to support WWF-UK’s Forest Campaign, allowing the campaign’s sustainability message to reach much of the UK’s timber industry. The 300 members of the Timber Trade Federation account for two thirds of the £8.9 billion UK timber industry. They range from sawmills to manufacturers, and from to distributors and retailers.

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is deeply concerned about the trial of 2012 Courage in Journalism Award Winner, Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. After a month-long trial where journalists and independent observers were barred from the courtroom, prosecutors concluded their case against Ismayilova today and are planning to present their sentencing request on Friday, according to latest news reports.

An £8 million facelift to four high-rise blocks in West Bromwich is now complete. Tenants living in Beaconview, Broome, Stanton and Sheapecoate Houses on Charlemont Farm have seen their homes transformed over a two-year period. External improvements including new roofs, insulated cladding, windows and balcony doors have given the blocks a new lease of life. Internally each flat has new electrical rewiring, heating and ventilation systems and a new front door.

Birmingham will be the location for the highly anticipated National Franchise Exhibition this autumn, which is set to attract thousands of aspiring business owners. 2014 was a fantastic year for entrepreneurship in the UK which saw a total of 581,173 new businesses launched, with Birmingham leading the way. 18,337 new businesses were registered in Birmingham in 2014 making it the UK’s most entrepreneurial city outside London.

Nine budding entrepreneurs are turning ideas into reality thanks to funding from a council-backed scheme. The Sandwell Entrepreneur Programme offers financial help and general support to people who come up with business ideas that also tackle social issues. One of the winners Michael Sinclair is setting up a service of affordable sporting activities for residents, while Jayde Lewis will give support to isolated older people in hospital.

Matt Hammond has been appointed regional chairman of PwC in the Midlands, heading up over 2,000 staff in the firm’s Birmingham, Castle Donington and Milton Keynes offices. He takes over from Mark Smith as chairman of PwC’s Midlands practice and senior partner for the Birmingham office. Mark has led the regional practice, which has delivered record results under his leadership, for the last seven years.

The elite of British engineering have grabbed a ‘bank vault’ of medals and ‘done their nation proud’ - at the Skills ‘Olympics ‘WorldSkills 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In a stellar night for Semta’s engineering Team UK no less than 10 of the 12-person squad won medals – the highest in the competition’s history. Alex Elton, aged 21, from Nuneaton, picked up a coveted Medallion of Excellence – proving him to be among the very best CNC Turners in the World.

As part of its recent relocation from Newhall Street to Moreton Street, Assay Office Birmingham has revealed the last and first articles to be hallmarked at its former and brand new premises. The business ran a competition via social media for jewellers, brands and silversmiths to submit their work for the honour of being the last items hallmarked at Newhall Street, with CEO and Assay Master Stella Layton drawing the two winners: L.J. Millington and GoldNielson.

Two-fifths of office workers in the West Midlands have admitted to finding their work away days boring, with over a quarter confessing they actually dread them, according to new statistics released by the British Heart Foundation. Worryingly, over 7% of employees in the West Midlands have even said that they find their away days stressful because it’s a day out of the office.

Birmingham Airport has broken its record for the busiest July ever, handling more than one million passengers last month. The Midlands airport handled 1,071,259 passengers during the month, beating last July’s previous record by 2% and becoming the sixth record month in 2015 so far. Long haul traffic saw the biggest growth with almost 20% more passengers using these services compared to July 2014.

Farmers are declaring war against supermarkets as more milk price cuts are announced, with Morrisons being the target of recent disruption. A farmer quoted in a national paper said “There’s a crisis. People are selling the core of their business just to pay bills and the banks. It’s also a crisis for the consumer. They wish to buy British but if we don’t address this situation that’s going to be taken away from them by corporate greed.”

Reflecting on the last 18 months of his term of office, Black Country Chamber of Commerce President, Ninder Johal said: "During 2013 we embarked on the process of improving the impact of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. As a result of consultation with our members and to reflect changes in the political landscape, we restructured to create a pan-Black Country Consultative Forum to replace our four local Boards which will both champion the policy priorities of the Chamber and act as the interface between the Board and members, ensuring that on all matters adequate consultation and feedback takes place.