More than 70 business people from Christchurch and East Dorset have attended the first of three events to launch Christchurch and East Dorset Councils’ plans for economic growth.
This first event took place at Highcliffe Castle where the attendees heard from a successful local businessman, Jimmy Cregan, founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, based in Airfield Way in Christchurch.
Jimmy told of the ethos behind his business and how he was building up his customer-base to get his products in as many suitable retail outlets as possible across the country.
Gordon Page, Chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), was next to the podium where he talked about the opportunities open to local businesses since the network of Local Enterprise Partnerships was launched by the government. He also mentioned the Dorset Growth Deal which has secured more than £66m from the government’s Local Growth Fund to support economic growth in the area. This includes a package of transport schemes to unlock growth at Bournemouth Airport and a major renewal of the A338 spur road.
Cllr Claire Bath, portfolio holder for the economy at Christchurch Borough Council, introduced the Growth Plan for Christchurch and East Dorset saying: “Our Plan is designed to create the right conditions for economic growth in the area and we are engaging widely with local businesses to make sure our proposed investments meet the needs of our business community.
“Achieving sustainable economic growth is a top priority for us. Revenue streams from central government to local councils have been dramatically cut and funding is increasingly driven by competitive bids and revenue streams that aim to grow the local economy.
“By working in partnership with businesses and organisations like the Dorset LEP we will win funding to support the growth of our local economy.”
Cllr Simon Tong, lead member for the economy at East Dorset District Council, introduced the five key areas where the councils are focusing on providing support:
- Infrastructure – lobbying for investment to deliver improvements to road, rail, public transport and broadband communications.
- Sites & premises – making sure that there is a full range of sites and premises available to meet the needs of expanding local businesses.
- Business Support & Skills – working with partners to promote and deliver business support services and ensuring the supply of a highly skilled workforce.
- Growing Communities – supporting the growth and development of rural areas and town centres.
- Housing – ensuring an adequate supply of housing development land and affordable housing.
People attending the event were then asked to consider these themes and provide feedback as to whether these are the correct areas to support and how they could be taken forward.
Two more events are planned at Dudsbury Golf Course where Andrew Murray from Manchester Airports Group will be speaking, and at Verwood Hub, where Anna Rosier, Managing Director of Organix, will speak.
There are still a few places left at the Verwood Hub event at 3.30pm on 26 November so if any business based in Christchurch or East Dorset is interested in attending, please book by emailing Rachel Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her on 07785 451834.