Last Friday I spoke to a seminar organised by Wokingham Borough, the Local Enterprise Partnership, Clifton Ingram and Lloyds Bank on small and medium sized enterprises. It was a well attended event.
I reminded them of the latest statement from the Governor of the Bank of England. This points to a year of low inflation, rising living standards and a decent rate of growth in the UK economy. This is a benign background for many businesses.
I commented on the range of schemes and options available for finance for small business to grow and invest. The government is proceeding with smart motorway capacity increases for the M3 and M4. The Borough Council is planning four new by pass/relief roads with new bridging over the railway line to ease traffic congestion. Crossrail, the Reading rail improvement and other major projects are improving rail services. I was asked what can help the Thames Valley remain a premier location for business? I replies a winning combination of talented people, good housing and an easier journey to work. Government and local government have a role in providing great education and better transport facilities.
The other presenters went into detail on what is on offer from the Local Enterprise Partnership, and explained how public sector money through the LEP, the education and training system and the Regional Growth fund can be useful. They explained the Berkshire Business Growth hub. We were reminded that London, the South east and east Anglia now represent 45% of the total UK economy, and are growing faster than the rest of the country. Any businesses in need of mentoring, support or financial assistance with growth should contact the LEP or the Borough officers for more guidance.
The LEP website is www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk