Newport & Gwent Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry has had a vast amount of experience in helping businesses in the former Gwent area to achieve their goals.

The organisation is exceptionally proud to have forged strong links with local businesses over a period spanning three centuries, and the chamber is recognised by its peers as a prestigious and valued member of the local business support sector.

No other organisation can claim the quality, credibility and reach of the chamber network. So you'd think they'd have run out of ideas by now...

In fact, it is quite the reverse, for they are constantly seeking to develop new services aimed at helping companies to enjoy business success, and their latest project is no exception.

This year's Five Counties Business Week will take place from October 18, and will include a Guru Lunch launch, networking breakfast, b2b exhibition and gala awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony will once again be hosted by BBC newsreader Jamie Owen, and the event is sponsored and supported by the South Wales Argus.

The awards are the finale to the chamber's Five Counties Business Week; an initiative which was brought to life to encourage businesses within the unitary authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen to network and inter-trade.

One of the core aims of the chamber is to provide members with a platform upon which to promote their products and services.

Networking is a key activity of the chamber, and with a total membership of over 1,500 businesses (including affiliates), no other organisation is better placed to offer opportunities for you to increase your business contacts.

This year's awards have attracted a greater volume of applications, which emphasises the need for local companies to gain the recognition their business deserves.

Carol Jones, the Five Counties Businesswoman of the Year 2003, said: "The Five Counties Businesswoman of the Year Award has given my business a greater degree of responsibility and has enhanced clients' desires to work with us.

" It has been, for me personally, a huge pat on the back for seven years' hard work and has boosted my desire to continue and grow the business.

"Best of all, my nomination and award allowed me to share with other women the fact that if I can run and sustain a business for more than seven years, anyone can!"

Peter Lewis, of Industrial Aut-omation & Control Limited, the company named winner, business of the year: 10-50 employees in 2003, said: "We are always keen to support our chamber of commerce, and winning this award means a great deal to us and our staff.

"This will certainly give us an advantage in marketing our products in the future."