Top marks to Stroud District Council for producing their Economic Development strategy for the next ten years.
Amy Beckett, the council’s economic development specialist has written a good, comprehensive report.
I like their vision, they state an ambition to create a sustainable, inclusive, and thriving economy for our businesses, communities, and residents.
They mention Stroud has a rich industrial heritage and a long-term commitment to creating a greener economy that reduces our carbon footprint and supports a more sustainable pattern of living and working.
There are lots of warm words here, but the key is the plans to get those words into action.
My main concern is that businesses must be encouraged to play a leading part in these plans.
I think that the district council needs to listen to business far more and realise that the local economy is driven by small firms —most of them micro businesses. This draft strategy is open for consultation until early February but there needs to be an ongoing dialogue with our local companies.
Times are changing quickly. In the next few weeks, we will hopefully be seeing a White Paper on Levelling Up from Michael Gove.
I am sure that will throw up new challenges to councils and Stroud must be prepared to change plans to cater for this change.
What has struck me over the last few months is how important that accolade from the Sunday Times—as the best place to live in Britain-has been for Stroud.
Simon Berg, the owner of the Imperial Hotel, told me that was the reason he came to Stroud to invest.
So, it seems to me, that the marketing of Stroud as a great place to live is a very obvious requirement for the town and its districts.
That is a key way to develop the local economy, just as Mark Dransfield has done with his investment with the Five Valleys shopping centre.
Many of the ideas and challenges in this strategy will take years.
But encouraging businesses to come to Stroud and providing them with the land to do that will be an obvious start.
To read the full draft economic strategy go to:https://www.stroud.gov.uk/media/1784383/draft-economic-development-strategy.pdf
Former newspaper editor, Ian Mean is Business West’s Gloucestershire director, a board member of GFirstLEP and former vice-chair of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company.