Somerset businesses have to be more robust than ever as they face political turmoil, rocketing inflation, skills and labour shortages and rising energy and raw material costs.
But Somerset Chamber is well placed to provide the vital link between local and national Government, supporting infrastructure projects such as Hinkley Point C, the skills and training agenda and lobbying for inward investment to boost the local economy.
After several years of recovery work, the Chamber was now in its own place of financial stability and was looking forward to investing in the growth and development of its team to provide even more help and support for members.
Those were the key messages at the Chamber’s AGM, which was held at Somerset County Cricket Club last week.
Emma Rawlings, the Chamber’s Chief Executive, outlined the Chamber’s key priorities for the coming year, as well as reporting on the previous 12 months of activity.
She said the Chamber would be focusing on “wider Somerset”, holding more events in areas such as Minehead and Frome, while ensuring members received absolute value for money for their membership.
She outlined the Chamber’s upcoming involvement in the Government’s Local Skills Development Plans, which will put business at the heart of the future skills agenda to ensure young people have the qualifications needed by firms.
She also spoke of the Chamber’s work with Hinkley Point C, leading the Hinkley Supply Chain in partnership with EDF.
Graeme Crosbie, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, said the supply chain team had been instrumental in helping to secure the £4.1 billion of contracts already spent with companies in the South West.
“Somerset Chamber of Commerce really is the voice of business. It is the portal to make sure Somerset businesses have their fair share of what is available and have access to every opportunity that arises; the Chamber is here to make access to all these things easier for Somerset businesses,” Graeme said.
He also thanked his fellow board members for their support over the past year and paid tribute to outgoing Finance Director Nick Farrant who stepped down at the AGM after six years in post.
“I would like to thank Nick for his influence and input on strategies and decisions and for his support – it’s been a fair old stint!” Graeme said as he presented Nick with a farewell gift.
Michael Cahill, a Partner at Albert Goodman, was elected as Nick’s replacement, while Lucy Kitchener, of charity We Hear You, was also elected as a new board member.
Existing members Emma Warren, Lizzie Ginbey, Evelyn Adfield and Jerome Timbrell were re-elected to the board.
Ten year membership certificates (some of the attendees are pictured above with their certificates) were also presented to 14 members – Avalon Telecom & Technologies, FiloFile – Document Management, Cosmic, JRP Accountancy, costgard ltd, Poolbridge Accountancy Ltd, Dome Marketing Ltd, Rebecca Bevins HR Consultancy Ltd, Electro South West Ltd, SJM Training Consultants Ltd, Fairhurst LLP, South West Galvanizers, Falcon Vehicle Solutions and Wasteology Limited.
A bouquet of flowers was also presented to the Chamber’s Senior Events and Marketing Officer, Sallie Barnes, who left on maternity leave – everyone at the Chamber wishes her well!