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6th Dec 2007, Swindon, United Kingdom – It was standing room only at the official launch of the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership (SSEP) in November - as over 120 representatives from the Swindon business community accepted the invitation from the SSEP Chair, Rikki Hunt, to become involved in ‘Driving Swindon Forward ‘.
The SSEP’s main objective is to establish links between the business and public sectors to enable better delivery of local strategies. The launch conference was designed to give local businesses the opportunity of giving their input into the town’s future economic strategy, and outlined the current network structure of nine groups and the range of projects already underway.
Swindon Borough Council’s Economic Development Team arranged the launch conference, and they were delighted by the depth and breadth of companies involved. The delegate list read like a roll-call of ‘movers and shaker’s in Swindon, including senior representatives from Alcatel Lucent, Honda, Modus, Motorola, Nationwide, Network Rail, Newsquest, RWE NPower, and Thamesdown Transport.

Providing a skilled workforce for local employers is high on the list of priorities and following the University of Bath’s decision to withdraw from Swindon, the Council cabinet led by councillor Rod Bluh asked the SSEP to actively seek an alternative partner. The project team were looking for a specific type of university which whilst having a traditional residential base would deliver programmes which meet local business needs. The project team chose the University of West of England as their partner and invited Assistant Vice Chancellor Prof Geoffrey Channon, to present their outline proposal. UWE is currently consulting with local organisations, and their feasibility study is due for publication in January 2008.

Culture and tourism are recognised as important building blocks for improving the quality of life and attracting companies to relocate to Swindon. Sally Pettipher from the Science Museum Swindon explained how their ‘Inspired’ project will house a world-class collection of artefacts and will still go ahead, despite the shock announcement it was dropped from ITV’s televised public vote for £50m National Lottery funding.
Sinclair Brown from the Economic Development Team and Carol Heneghan from The New Swindon Company presented the findings of the Swindon Marketing Group’s project on perceptions of the town – gathered from Businesses and residents from both inside and outside Swindon. They also outlined plans to develop a new brand and marketing programme to support Swindon’s major growth agenda.
Chair of the SSEP and local entrepreneur Rikki Hunt came to Swindon as the youngest ever Chief Executive of a British Oil Company, Burmah Petroleum Fuels Ltd., and he has gone on to buy and sell several other medium to large companies.

Rikki is passionate about Swindon and his enthusiasm is catching. He says ‘The attendance at the launch proves the point that Swindon needs an organisation like this, because the conference was over-subscribed and we’ve been turning people away. The SSEP will help us develop joined up thinking between the public and private sector. We’re putting the final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in place to create a strong foundation for the town’s future economic growth.’ Everyone here knows Swindon is a great place for doing business and to live. I think today we’ve grown another hundred business ambassadors for Swindon.’

Feedback from delegates has been very positive, as reflected on the web site. And the structure of the SSEP organisation is being held up as a blueprint of excellence for the South West. For further details see www.ssep.org.uk or
www.maketheconnection.co.uk

Mike Godfrey, Chief Engineer of Honda says ‘The economic strategy for the town will affect the future of all organisations based here so it’s good to see a well thought-out, coordinated approach. The SSEP network allows Swindon businesses to be not only consulted but also part of the decision making processes.’
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FACTS & FIGURES
Swindon’s Economic Performance Indicators
• GVA - Highest gross value added per head (the equivalent of GDP at town/regional level). Swindon’s GVA is more than 50% higher than the UK average. Third highest in terms of regions.
• Employment rate at 79% is higher than both the South West (77.7%) and the UK (74.2%)
• Swindon has a higher proportion of people in working age group (63.6%) compared to SW (59.9) and UK (62.1).
• Swindon also has just come out top of the league of the UK’s fifty largest towns and cities for the highest growth in the number of new VAT-registered businesses, according to a recent survey by accountants UHY Hacker Young

Location Swindon is located :
• One hour to London Paddington by train
• An hour’s drive to Heathrow and Bristol airports
• 90 minutes drive to Central London, Birmingham and Southampton
• 40 minutes to Reading, Bristol, Cheltenham, Oxford and Bath
• Near to the ports of Bristol’s Avonmouth, Southampton and Portsmouth

Weblinks

www.ssep.org.uk
www.maketheconnection.co.uk

Photos from the day can be downloaded from the website
www.ssep.org.uk/ssep/ssep-conference_documents/ssep-featurel...


Include the SSEP structure diagram here
For further details, interviews and hi-res jpegs, contact
Rhona Jack
Blue Click PR Ltd.
Tel: +44 (0) 1793 441414
Mobile : +44 (0) 7866 546221
rhona@blueclickpr.com

Sinclair Brown
Marketing and Investment Manager
Economic Development
Swindon Borough Council
Tel: +44 (0) 1793 466170
srbrown@swindon.gov.uk
The Economic Development Team at Swindon Borough Council
Swindon Borough Council is committed to supporting the business community in the Borough. Swindon Borough Council’s Economic Development Team acts as an interface between the local authority and the business community and aims to maximise the benefit that companies make to the local economy.
The Economic Development Team provides a wide range of services to industry and commerce, including extensive research and analysis. The two main areas of focus are:
Supporting the existing business community by providing help and advice to employers in the Borough, responding to their concerns and proactively targeting support to priority sectors of the economy.
Encouraging and facilitating new investment by promoting Swindon as an excellent location for business, working with companies that are considering relocating or expanding and ensuring that a suitable environment exists for investment.
The Economic Development Team works in partnership with a range of other organisations in delivering its strategy, including the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership, Business Link, the New Swindon Company, South West of England Regional Development Agency, Swindon Chamber of Commerce, Wiltshire and Swindon Learning and Skills Council.


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