A wide range of speakers took to the stage to talk to over 110 delegates representing local businesses big and small, across all sectors. This year's conference focused on exporting and the benefits and new opportunities local businesses can draw on by reaching out to global markets.
The conference was opened by Chairman of Sedgemoor District Council Councillor Ian Dyer and Councillor Anne Fraser, Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth. Councillor Dyer spoke positively of the area's achievements over the last five years "As a district we have gone from the highest to the lowest unemployment in the county, with unemployment at 0.9%. There are also 4000 more jobs, 455 more businesses and 670 Sedgemoor-based businesses signed up to the Hinkley Point C supply chain - we're very proud of this record."
Councillor Fraser echoed the council's business support ethos "We're a pro-business council - our focus is global and we want our businesses focus to be global as well as for them to gain from the positive opportunities from Hinkley Point C".
Hilary Charman, International Trade Adviser from Department of International Trade; Julie Ounsworth, International Director at Santander and the South West's Regional Manager for China Britain Business Council Antoaneta Becker shared their knowledge as exporting experts and offered advice on what help their organisations could provide to businesses.
Hilary Charman from Department of International Trade outlined that "Exporting is for service providers as well as manufacturers and there are many ways for local businesses to break into exporting for the first time, whether this be by attending trade fairs, through E-commerce or via overseas distributors". Businesses wishing to hear more about exporting were encouraged to sign-up to attend a 1-2-1 advice and support session with Hilary on 16thNovember from 10am. Those wishing to make an appointment should contact Hilary via email@example.com
Managing Director of Oregon-based NuScale Power, Thomas Mundy, shared his company's vision to bring new Small Modular Reactor nuclear technology to the UK and beyond "In the UK there will be opportunities for both manufacturing and in the wider supply chain for the deployment of the technology both in the UK and to European Markets".
Local businesses' perspective on exporting was offered by Andrew Brownlow, CEO of Bridgwater-based BFF Technical Fabrics, by Stephen Jones, Managing Director of Wellington-based Somerdale Cheese and by Guy Atkins, Managing Director of Highbridge Firm Jo Bird.
Andrew Brownlow talked through BFF's move from volume and value and commented "Exporting has been a key driver to our businesses success, as has having a clear strategy and finding a niche market and dominating it".
Stephen Jones from Somerdale, one of the UK's leading exporters of cheese, selling over 350 varieties across the globe said "Global markets are changing and new consumers with new tastes are emerging, leading to new export opportunities". Stephen urged local businesses to have "flexibility on packaging, labels and products, to have patience, to source, grade and sell only the best - to offer truly the best of British".
Guy Atkins of Jo Bird and Co, who sell fire safety and lifesaving equipment, talked through the journey of a small business of around 25 employees that has developed to trading in 37 countries. Guy encouraged others to seek advice and support on their export journey "get help from professional and industry contacts including Department for International Trade and the relevant industry Trade Body. Companies will succeed when they seek expert advice, have belief in exporting throughout the company and are committed in the investment vision for the long term".
Delegates also heard an update on the Hinkley Point C construction from David Eccles and Dave Peacop. The conference learnt that following the Final Investment Decision (FID) 1000 workers are now on-site, the main earth works have started and the first accommodation block has been constructed and is being used. Dave updated on the vast benefits available to local businesses from the Hinkley Point C development and strongly recommended that companies sign up to the supply chain stating "supply chain opportunities are still very much available".
James Gore talked enthusiastically about the international connectivity available on Sedgemoor's doorstep from Bristol Airport. The airport is currently ranked as the 9th busiest in the UK with 7 million passengers and has been ranked the most punctual for the second year in a row. Delegates were updated on the £120m spent at the airport from 2010 to 2016 and the vision for the future.
For more information on Economic Development in Sedgemoor please contact firstname.lastname@example.org