By Ian Mean
Business West Gloucestershire director
Listening to business at this very difficult time for companies here in Gloucestershire is just so important. That’s why I welcome Stroud District Council’s Business Workshop initiative to explore business and community investment issues.
I have taken a particular interest in how Stroud District Council has been trying to encourage investment in the town and area.
I was very interested in the council’s Levelling Up bid to the government, which will, hopefully, get the green light. Yes, I have been critical of what I perceive to have been a lack of encouragement to business so I am pleased the council has finally decided to take some action. Business colleagues, I work with share my view.
At the heart of the challenge is the myriad of micro-businesses in the Stroud district.
There are several thousand of them with many having under ten employees, including the hyper-local Stroud Times, which includes just two journalists and a web manager.
The workshop I attended posed some important questions such as:
*What is Stroud like as a place to do business?
*What is currently lacking or missing?
*How do you think others view Stroud as a place to invest for the future?
Good questions for a high-quality prospectus that is apparently costing the council £30-40 000.
This will be money well spent if it boosts the council’s chances of attracting millions of investment from government or bodies like the Lottery.
Major investment into towns like Stroud and its local area is not easy to achieve.
Dransfield Properties have so far invested over £25 million in their Five Valleys shopping and new medical centre development.
Stroud needs more people like Mark Dransfield to invest. To encourage investment, those would-be investors need to be reeled in with clear marketing messages on Stroud’s USPs.
Take Simon Berg, for instance, a London property man, who bought the old Imperial Hotel and developed it. He simply saw Stroud winning that Sunday Times Best Place to Live award as an opportunity. He had never been to Stroud before.
So, clarity of the Stroud business message for investment is vital.
This initiative is not before time. I applaud it as a critical friend of Stroud and will be watching for its delivery.