Delegates give Berwick the seal of approval at conference

Berwick needs to persuade business that it is a great place to live and work if it is to succeed in its regeneration efforts.

Friday, 25th March 2016, 1:00 pm
Berwick Investors Conference and business networking event at the Town Hall
Berwick Investors Conference and business networking event at the Town Hall

That is the view of Bryan McGrath, chief officer for economic development at Scottish Borders Council, when he addressed delegates at the inaugural Berwick Investors Conference.

He pointed out that 4.5million people lived between Scotland’s central belt and the Northern Powerhouse cities of Leeds and Manchester.

“The quality of life is a huge selling point for our region but we have got to get people into the area so they know what we mean,” he said.

Jeff Sanders, of UK Trade and Industry (UKTI), urged businesses to seek out trading opportunities abroad. “We need to put this area on the map,” he said. “There are an awful lot of good things happening but we need more people to see the advantages of exporting.”

That message was echoed by Barbara Huddart, marketing manager of Belford-based Bedmax Ltd, which has had support from UKTI.

“Export is now 50 per cent of our overall business,” she said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today in terms of exporting if it wasn’t for UKTI.”

Delegates were full of praise for Berwick’s efforts in putting on the event.

David Ainsley said: “I was delighted to attend. My impression was that it was a superb first attempt to project Berwick as a place in which to do business in the context of the Scottish Borders and the northern most outpost of The Northern Powerhouse.

“I do hope that initiatives develop from it and that it becomes an annual fixture. And whilst the Town Hall was right for the first event it did rather struggle for space. Perhaps it could be in The Barracks next year with cafes and bars around the town primed to attract delegates for networking purposes at the start and the end of the day.”

Neil Gullan, of Sanson Seal House, said: “The conference was a real success and should act as a springboard for regular events which build the ongoing momentum required to enrich Berwick. I was hugely impressed by the young entrepreneurs who showed such talent and drive. It was so good to see so many people who like us simply want to do whatever we can to enhance Berwick.”

Andy Purves, of Andy Purves Ltd, said: “Well done on the seminar which I thought was a very worthwhile and energetic event.”