Chamber of Commerce event: Working in partnership is key


Some of the county’s most influential business leaders came to Alconbury Enterprise Campus on January 25 to highlight how working in partnership is key to improving business confidence and realising potential for economic growth in a breakfast seminar organised by Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce.

Professor Alan Barrell, Entrepreneur in Residence at Cambridge University's Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, addressed delegates at the event. Sharing his observations of international economic activity, he said: “There is no better place to do business than in this sub-region and nowhere with more potential for continuing economic and social development. I believe Britain is great and that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has the potential to be a marvellous and growing hub of increasing international importance.”

The event was officially opened by John Bridge OBE, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, who also identified that working together and utilising resources more efficiently would have a positive impact on the economy.

Grahame Nix, just two months into his tenure as Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, built on this to communicate the role the partnership would take in making a contribution to the region’s innovation. He said: “Our LEP area is a leading centre for innovation. The role of the LEP is influential with local councils and government with four key areas, specifically the Enterprise Zone, the skills agenda, innovation and international markets.”

However he reassured businesses that the scope of the LEP is not restricted to these areas and it is also increasingly concerned with the improvements necessary to transport infrastructure, describing how the railways and A14 need to be built into a real programme going forward. The key positioning of the Local Enterprise Partnership was also highlighted by Mike Spicer, Senior Policy Advisor and Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce. His role oversees the national LEP network on behalf of the BCC, and he described how the results of their most recent Quarterly Economic Survey showed a positive trend in business confidence in our region. He also highlighted the need for partnership working and identified many key characteristics of Chambers that enables them to bring together local authorities, LEPs and other key partners to facilitate this. He said: “The Heseltine Review demonstrated what Chambers have the potential to do nationally and at a local level as a result of their international links but local focus, independence and resilience.”

The breakfast event also included an update from Tim Leathes, Project Director at Urban & Civic, on the development of Alconbury Weald. Describing the impact the site would have on the local economy, he commented: “This is a big part of the Huntingdon economy. We have been working with the Chamber since we began three years ago and continuing to work closely with the Chamber, UKTI, local authorities and the LEP is fundamental to the success of Enterprise Zone.”

The event also gave local businesses an opportunity to see Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce’s new branding which now puts them in line with their national accredited body, the British Chambers of Commerce.