President's Heartbeat – w/c 15th November

President's Heartbeat – 15th November 2019

There are a large number of manufacturing & engineering businesses dotted around the four Yeovil Business Parks, quietly creating success stories.  This is the manufacturing and engineering backbone of Yeovil; the 200-year legacy of ‘making things’ in Yeovil, employing 12,000 people, and making up 20% of the Yeovil workforce.  Business success is always to be celebrated, but if any success is coupled with a lack of ‘connection’ to the location of the business, and a primary customer base which has developed away from Yeovil, any success relative to the Yeovil economy can be-short-lived if a decision is made by such a business to relocate closer to its primary customer base.  I have recently met several owners and decision-makers of Yeovil-based manufacturers who know alarmingly little of the economic regeneration projects, joined-up thinking, infrastructure investment, and the rejuvenation of the town centre retail sector.

To encourage these businesses to feel part of a larger success story, and in response to a call from Garador MD Neil Discombe asking: “Garador is looking to network with local manufacturing plants for best practice sharing, would you be able to help?” Yeovil Chamber put together a working party comprising South Somerset District Council, Garador, Leonardo Helicopters and Porter Dodson Solicitors to resolve these two issues.  The appetite for action was clearly demonstrated at the 14th November launch meeting at Leonardo Helicopters (pictured), which saw twenty manufacturing leaders & decision-makers from across Yeovil, Crewkerne and Chard around the table, discussing the way forward.  Also involved at the launch were South Somerset District Council economic regeneration managers, Yeovil College employer engagement officers, and Inspire Biz, a HOTSW LEP-contractor promoting funding streams to scale-up businesses.  This wider representation is offering further support to Chamber and the fledgling group, tentatively labelled M-Hub.

The mood in the room at the 14th November launch, was to create tangible, long-term benefit to the manufacturing sector as soon as possible, and a clear two-point aim has already emerged: (a), to create a network of manufacturing businesses from across the Yeovil area of influence, sharing best practices and experiences, on an open agenda of cooperation, and (b), to create and develop supply-chain opportunities for all.  The initiative will be sector-specific; run by those who engage, for those who engage, but will be open to all businesses who ‘make things’, and form part of Yeovil Chamber’s business support package.  Feedback from break-out sessions at the launch meeting will fuel the agenda for a follow-up meeting at Garador, scheduled for 9th December.

(Image credit: Leonardo Helicopters)

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Released on 22/11/2019