Sun, 14 Apr 2019
LOCAL businesses, entrepreneurs and organisations attended the official launch of Newbury West Berkshire, a new economic development company set up to help boost the district’s economy.
Last Thursday morning, more than 100 people accepted an invitation to hear more about the not-for-profit company, which was formed to help raise the profile of Newbury and West Berkshire and promote it as a good place to work, live and raise a family.
A number of organisations are now involved, including Vodafone, Newbury Racecourse, the Newbury Weekly News, the Corn Exchange, West Berkshire Brewery, Roc Technologies, Greenham Trust and Newbury Business Improvement District (BID).
Through collaborative working between these companies and others, it is hoped that Newbury West Berkshire will help the district grow and prosper.
One key message at the launch event, held at Newbury Racecourse, was the importance of not just attracting young people to Newbury and West Berkshire, but also to retain them.
Newbury BID chief executive Russell Downing said at the launch: “The retention of a young workforce in Newbury has been a problem ever since I came here and it is getting worse.”
West Berkshire Council has previously identified this as one of the biggest challenges facing the district.
Newbury West Berkshire is non-political and independent of the council.
However, the two organisations will work alongside each other to achieve similar aims.
Mr Downing said at the launch: “Why did we feel the need to set up an economic development company?
“We felt like we were falling behind a little bit in terms of the M4 corridor.
“You go past Reading, then there doesn’t look like there’s anything there until you get to Swindon.”
He added: “We want to engage all stakeholders and work with the council.
“We want to deliver a clear and manageable plan.”
The chairman of West Berkshire Brewery and Cobbs Farm Shop and Kitchen, entrepreneur David Bruce, told those who had gathered at the launch: “I am passionate about Newbury and West Berkshire.
“Let’s make Newbury a place to be proud of and to enjoy.”
Some funding has been secured, but the company is trying to raise more money through a combination of voluntary membership, grants and donations.
The next steps will be to adopt stakeholders and seek more funding.
To get involved in Newbury West Berkshire, contact Mr Downing at Russell.firstname.lastname@example.org