Enthusiastic response showsthat Berwick is open for business
The huge success of the inaugural Berwick Investors Conference demonstrates the town's enormous untapped potential.
More than 100 delegates from all over the country attended the conference in the town hall on Thursday.
“The huge turn-out for the conference demonstrates that this is a town that fights back and is determined to build a better future, with new jobs and investment,” said Cllr Eric Goodyer, who chaired the event run by the town council.
“This was Berwick Town Council at its best, working for the community that elected us.”
There was a strong Scottish contingent, with businesses from Lothian, the Borders and Edinburgh signing up for tickets.
The keynote speaker was Cllr Stuart Bell, Executive Member for Economic Development on Scottish Borders Council, who spoke about the similarities between Berwick and the Scottish Borders.
Both faced similar challenges but by working together they would be stronger.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership spoke about business support from the English side of the border.
Other presentations covered support for innovation from the Government and the EU, and UKTI offered advice on building exports.
It is now anticipated that some of the speakers will now be holding business advice surgeries in Berwick.
John Clayton intends to run monthly Knowledge Transfer Partnerships sessions and UKTI is keen to get involved.
A number of local people took the opportunity of the two-minute elevator pitches to present their business offerings and the networking session over lunch was greatly appreciated.
Cllr Goodyer is confident that Berwick will secure inward investment as a result.
“We will not be able to see real outcomes for months,” continued Cllr Goodyer. “But business cards were exchanged, and potential deals were being discussed.
“We are now getting requests from delegates asking to be put in touch with other attendees to discuss new partnerships – so if anyone wants the town council’s assistance to follow up a lead then we will be willing to help.”
Talk is already under way about next year’s event – early feedback has asked for more time for companies to present their offering, and the event could develop into a conference and trade show if there is demand and funding.
“This is a town where there are skills, space to expand, and offers a superb place to work in,” said Cllr Goodyer.
“We have excellent road, rail and port links and are a strategic location to service Scotland and England.
“We are the bridge between Scotland and England and there could be real benefits from that.
“Scottish Borders Council wants to work closer with Berwick Town Council and Northumberland County Council to develop the Borders economy so the message is we have the skills, the will to succeed, have success stories and are a great place to invest.”
Mayor Hazel Bettison added: “It was a fantastic day for Berwick. Everyone I spoke to said how much they enjoyed it and congratulated us on our warm welcome. There was a buzz with exchanging business cards, thoughts on working together and how to get the best for everyone concerned. It was great seeing the youth of Berwick who are our future also taking part. A great big thank-you goes to Eric and the councillors who helped pull this together.