It is with great anticipation that Inverness Chamber of Commerce launches this year’s Highland Business Week and begins the build up to one of the highlights in the business calendar.

The importance of HBW cannot be overstated. It is unique in bringing together such a wide range of businesses from across our dispersed region to showcase success, tackle common challenges and make new partnerships.

The prestigious Highland Business Awards, which are now open for entries, celebrate achievement across a broad spectrum of our economy, with companies of all sizes and in all sectors represented.

Two new categories this year - Young Apprentice of the Year and Best Newcomer to Exporting - further expand the awards which last year attracted a record number of 106 high-quality entries. We expect that figure will be surpassed this year as the competition builds towards the awards ceremony on 28 September.

Before then, the five-days of events will include the annual Highland Spotlight Business Exhibition, which also set a record last year when more than 550 visitors and exhibitors took part, as well as a series of networking sessions and seminars.

Highland Business Week has grown over the last five years into a major part of our year. Its success has also meant a number of other organisations have arranged their own events during the week to capitalise on the highly advantageous gathering of business interests.

But, as important as the week is, Inverness Chamber of Commerce does not forget about its day-to-day work promoting and serving the city and the wider region.

As part of the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Inverness & Central Highland programme, we are arranging a seminar on the management of millennials. This will explore how businesses can engage effectively with the younger workforce and equip businesses with the skills to effectively recruit, manage and motivate young employees.

In the week after HBW, I will be attending a quarterly meeting in the Central Belt of DYW chairs and lead officers across Scotland to discuss the latest information and best practice among groups running the programme for the Scottish Government.

Brexit is never far away, and in the lead up to business week I will be taking part in a regular British Chambers of Commerce conference call which will update the UK Chambers’ chief executives on this most crucial of subjects.

Hopefully by then the uncertainty surrounding our future partnership with the European Union will be replaced with some clarity so we can go into Highland Business Week with more stability and confidence.