A Word from the Chair
What does the Chamber do?
Since joining the Chamber, initially volunteering for the committee and now privileged to have completed my first years as the Chamber Chairman, this has been the question that I have been asked most often by our business community, and one that we have been endeavouring to answer with our actions as much as our words this past 12 months.
During this period we have made significant ground, building on the legacy, hard work and commitment of the committees and volunteers who have worked hard over many years. I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on how far we have come in a year and then to share our vision for the coming period.
Looking back over the past 12 months there have been some major milestones achieved. The first and clearly most evident has been the development of the chamber brand. I think you’ll all agree now that the brand we have adopted now is fresh, new and vibrant. The Town Quay Bridge is a fresh icon of our town, highlighting the development and aspiration of Newton Abbot.
The question then was how to communicate our values and ambition. So in concert with a new brand we developed and agreed our Charter, what we aim to do, how we aim to do it, and who we do it for. The Chamber is here to listen to our business community, offer support and advice, and to lobby on behalf of business locally, regionally and nationally. We are well on the way.
Clearly, we also needed to have a platform from which to communicate. Which has led to the development and launch of our website. We now have a great platform from which to communicate with the business community. We have a far greater digital presence, giving us much greater visibility in the region. This has been demonstrated with 431 attending the Chamber events over the past year, that an incredible 160% increase, we just now need to work hard to encourage non-members to join!
Being well connected was another major areas of focus, building the appropriate relationships within the town, this has been something we have worked hard on and the results have been very encouraging, we have a solid relationship with the UTC and with the local Rotary group – both having honorary memberships on our committee. As you would expect we have a really strong working relationship with our Town Council, and this year we have developed further our relationship with Teignbridge Council, Devon County Council, Devon Chamber of Commerce and with The Federation of Small Businesses.
So it’s been a good year. What’s the next step, where are we heading? In a word, growth. I think you’d all agree we have a great foundation for our growth over the next 12 months and indeed from the planning we have already completed this year we are on the way.
We are all aware of the changes which are already starting to shape the business environment; there is significant local development, BREXIT, digitisation of HMRC, a faster pace of business, greater competition, the fantastic opportunities in apprenticeships, the impact of sophisticated and traditional crime, embracing a renewable technology, the need to be greener, all of which go to make business today extremely complex. We want to play our part, and we will.
There is no point in being an echo chamber, we need to grow the membership in order to preserve, protect and grow our business community, local economy and invest in Newton Abbot and the region’s future. It matters. It matters a lot. We will invest in a junior group to educate, advise and encourage the next generation; and talks are already afoot with UTC, the Academy, College and Young Devon.
We will have significant focus on the growth of our
membership and we will be marketing to encourage our local businesses to join. We all need to take accountability for that and make sure we resonate within our circles of influence to encourage membership.
We will grow our ability as an advisory body, a conduit to local, regional and national government, in order to be the business voice of Newton Abbot and the Region. We will challenge, collaborate and celebrate with our members to stimulate positive economic growth, and we will closely monitor to measure success. We will also assist in the long-term development of the business development plans for the future with our partners in government.
Business IS better together!
Why not join us – and help make Newton Abbot an even better place to do business.
Steve Gaskell – Chairman