Annual Economic Growth Conference hailed as ‘engaging and informative’

Posted on: Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Last month, Newark and Sherwood District Council hosted its third annual Economic Growth Conference at The Pumping House in Boughton. 

85 local businesses took advantage of yet another opportunity by Newark and Sherwood District Council in its bid to do all it can to support local businesses and retailers. 

Councillor Matthew Spoors, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Economic Development at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: "The District Council is supporting businesses in lots of ways, including through a series of programmes and events we deliver year-round which includes the Economic Growth Conference. Regularly, we hold support clinics and surgeries in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council and NBV Enterprise Solutions for pre-startups and establishes businesses looking for advice, including financial advice, on how to grow and expand.

“In addition, to support the events we organise, the District Council also provides a free grant finder service – upon request - to identify any funding streams a business may be eligible for, access to data such as footfall and car parking. We have also made extra efforts to support businesses located on our high streets during this crucial time, such as providing free car parking at weekends from Saturday, 26 November until Sunday, 31 December in District Council owned car parks and frequent Shop Local campaigns including a Winter Wishes campaign to encourage people to visit their local town centres over the winter months.

“Also, through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, we have funded programmes which provided in-depth, expert-led advice to businesses through workshops, tutorials and 1:2:1 sessions. Recently, we've also launched our new Business Support Hub, where you can drop in for an informal chat with a member of the team every Tuesday from 11am to 1pm at Inspire Buttermarket Newark. We have also just completed the first stage of the Newark Town Centre Masterplan consultation. Residents filled in the online survey, attended workshops and visited our market stall which will help form options for Newark Town Centre’s future development. These options will be presented to the public early next year. Residents will be able to share their thoughts and let us know which options and ideas they'd like so that we can prepare the final version of the plan for consultation in the summer.”

"We are doing all we can to support businesses facing the cost-of-living crisis, and the Economic Growth Conference is another opportunity for businesses to learn more and grow in a sustainable way."

Attendees at the Conference heard from industry experts about providing excellent customer service and reaching their sustainability goals. 

100% of people who responded to the feedback form rated the Conference as Excellent or Very Good, with 90% saying they would encourage others to attend next year. Respondents highlighted the usefulness of the presentations and workshops offered throughout the day and how each industry expert provided businesses with tips and tricks that they could utilise daily. 

Feedback from attendees particularly highlighted the Conference's Keynote Speaker, Geoff Ramm, who re-ignited the room's passion for taking customer service from great to celebrity status. Author and creator of Celebrity Service and someone who has worked with international brands such as Emirates, Warner Bros, Specsavers and McDonalds, Geoff provided businesses with beneficial yet easy tricks that can be utilised in organisations of any size. He particularly emphasised the importance of a personalised message and how effective this can be. 

The theme of this year's Conference was Sustainability in Business, including how businesses can adopt greener practices for ways of working, create a strategy that incorporates the reduction of their carbon footprint and how this can reduce operational costs, increase brand recognition and reputation and attract potential investors – whilst also doing their bit for the planet!

Will-Syme Nicholson, Partner and CFO at Vision Zero Consult, gave an insightful talk demystifying the ESG – environmental, social and governance – criteria, how businesses can incorporate this into their business, and the benefits they will see.

Attendees also heard how the District Council supports businesses in achieving their sustainability goals through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, particularly the Newark and Sherwood Accelerator delivered in partnership with The East Midlands Chamber. The Accelerator Programme is designed to help businesses across the district reduce energy costs, become sustainable and innovate. Diane Beresford, the Chamber's Deputy Chief Executive, spoke through the various workshops available to businesses. If you are interested in accessing support through the Newark and Sherwood Accelerator, more information is available on the D2N2 Growth Hub website here:

Councillor Spoors continued, "I was incredibly pleased that one of the key themes of our Conference was how businesses can realistically achieve their sustainability goals. It was great to hear so many conversations during the day focused on this topic, and it was even better to see so many attendees walk away from the day with legitimate actions they can use in their businesses and enthusiasm to implement them.

"Thank you to all of our speakers for such a fantastic Conference, and I am delighted that plans are underway for our 2024 Conference. We have now created an event that continues to support local businesses and drive growth."

Mark Duignan from Barcode Warehouse who attended the event said: “I really enjoyed the day overall, well organised, engaging and with a raft of useful info, hints and insights.”

More information about the 2024 Conference will be available in the new year.