Under Construction was delighted to attend the annual Sedgemoor Economic Development Conference, held at The Macmillan Theatre in Bridgwater. This year’s theme was ‘Made in Somerset’ with speakers from brands that have expanded from the district into national and internationally recognised names that continue to develop and grow.First up, EDF Energy discussed the positives of Hinkley Point C; the first Nuclear New Build in the UK, one of the biggest construction projects in Europe. With this project comes sustainable benefits for the South West and for the first time ever we are able to compete with the draw of London – ‘Bridgwater is where it’s at’! This sentiment continued with second guest Speaker Ian Liddell-Grainger MP.
Of the 155,000 nuclear jobs in the UK, the South West has the majority; every £1 in £50 spent in the area is within the nuclear industry. Not only do we have HPC, but decommissioning of Hinkley Point A, another strand of nuclear is better than anywhere else! There is much to look forward to with the Parrett Barrier and the Enterprise Zone. The ambition of UK PLC is to be fit for purpose, a skilled country in Manufacturing and Engineering. Reiterated by Claire Pearce, Group Manager for Strategy and Development at Sedgemoor District Council, we are a Pro-Business authority and the Economic Development team can support businesses grow in the area or relocate here.
Wyke Farms MD Richard Clothier followed representing Passion for Somerset – they have growth plans set to create a further fifty jobs over the next 2 years. Richard’s passion for Somerset was evident with his talk of #Somerset Day. Wyke Farms teamed up with Thatcher’s for a campaign; Match made in Somerset, #PerfectMatch! Who can argue with Cider and Cheese, a winning combination that our wonderful Somerset is heralded for, one of many! Put a note in your diary for 11th May 2018 – How can you celebrate Somerset Day?
Somerset’s expertise in Food Manufacturing continued to flow from Cheese to Organic Yoghurt when Karl Tucker, MD of Yeo Valley took to the floor. Their factory nestled in the Sedgemoor village of Cannington produces 900 tonnes of Organic Yoghurt a week! 6 metres of pallets are shipped each week, evidence of how pallets (see previous blog) are an essential part of the manufacturing supply chain.
Bob Montgomery of Longleat Enterprises, which owns Cheddar Gorge and Caves showed us how they have rebranded our unique asset in Sedgemoor to attract more tourism and as we know from recent campaigns, Cheddar and the Gorge is open for walkers and more. Bob was very open about the turnaround of Longleat, whilst not in Somerset his key point was that when a business and working team create something innovative, well received by its customers, it increases the morale of those staff – ‘it’s not just a job but part of something to be proud of’.
After technology advice to the businesses attending from Kate Doodson of Cosmic (Did you know – the most popular time to purchase online is 5.30 AM and outside of London the South West has the highest number of eBay users, tailgating the city again!), the final speaker Helen Lacey, Red Berry Recruitment MD, reminded us again that People make Somerset! A workforce is the key ingredient to business growth and prosperity and Under Construction agrees whole-heartedly.
Staff retention is vital as the area continues to grow. Can businesses afford not to upskill, cultivate and nurture workforce to ensure our wonderful ‘Made in Somerset’ products thrive?