I am fortunate to visit many fantastic local businesses of all sizes and from all sectors. Across the constituency, large organisations like Greene King, British Sugar, and Muntons to fabulous growing businesses like Treatts, and SMEs such as Stow Healthcare and the Angel hotel. Nestled in one of the most productive growing parts of the country, of course local farmers and food and drink businesses excel.
The last couple of years have been particularly demanding for businesses and for many, who breathed a sigh of relief as we emerged from Covid, positives have felt short lived. The need to adapt to additional challenges, whether that be rising costs or more extreme weather, is once again focusing minds, alongside practicalities like attracting the right workforce. It is vital that businesses are not only able to manage day to day but are enabled to thrive and grow. I regularly meet with businesses to understand the issues that they are facing and the actions that can be taken to ensure their future success.
We should never forget that the success of our economy and our people is built on business and that public services can only be provided if this remains the case.
Thankfully our area is an economic success story with unemployment levels consistently well below the national average and confidence remaining relatively high. In order to ensure this remains the case, we must continue to invest in our skills education. Locally we have a strong relationship between businesses and education providers – ensuring businesses have access to the skills they need whilst helping students find rewarding employment. The increasing use of the apprenticeship model means I meet people of all ages, being invested in by organisations so they can earn and learn each and every week.
My ambition is to see us support the next generation of entrepreneurs and ensure West Suffolk remains a desirable destination for businesses to invest and grow in. Personally, I know what it takes to start and develop a business, how order books don’t fill up by chance and how every day brings new challenges. Now, more than ever, we need to be supporting our businesses of all sizes to bring investment to our towns and villages. Their success is essential to the prosperity of our local communities and attracts further investment and builds aspiration.