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Policy Roundtable – Thames Valley Business Manifesto
26th June 2017

A roundtable took place at the Chamber’s HQ in Slough on Friday 23 June which involved business leaders from member companies including Blake Morgan, Boyes Turner, BT, 3M, EY, Henley Business School, Heathrow, IBB, Microsoft, Pitmans, Thames Valley Science Park and Vodafone.

The event was organised to provide a high level steer for Thames Valley Chamber’s work on the future competitiveness of the Thames Valley region generated at The Windsor Debates in March to include a Business Manifesto and proposals for a high level campaign. The organisations represented discussed the content and positioning of the work ahead of producing the full document by the next Windsor Debates on 29 September. The Manifesto will be launched at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner in November.

Chatham House rules were applied to the Roundtable but here is a summary of the discussions:

The need is to create a regional identity during a time of political uncertainty, emphasising that the Thames Valley is a very successful place to do business. The challenge is to continue with and sustain the economic environment. The aspiration is to position Thames Valley Chamber and its membership to promote positive action for change.

1. The key pillars of the manifesto should include:
a. Infrastructure – including components covering rail (West Rail Access to London Heathrow; 3rd runway at Heathrow), road (M4 smart motorway) and technology (broadband).
b. Education, skills and people – attracting and retaining the right talent to drive the entrepreneurial engine of the Thames Valley; ensuring we continue to attract the right people, with the rights skills and right attitude (ref: BREXIT implications).
c. Research & Development/ Knowledge Economy – drivers of the high IP rich; value-adding economy of the Thames Valley.

2. There is an opportunity to present the business community perspective on the drivers that will shape the future economic growth of the Thames Valley. This may mean we need to:
a. Champion the preparation of an integrated, sustainable economic growth strategy (not an economic plan);
b. Present – the business case for change; the business case to drive the economy forward, and; the Return on our Investment (ROI).
c. Present the fact we are building on success; perhaps articulating the growth story so far ‘with a plan’).
d. Define the difference (in GVA terms) when we build the plan.

3. Mobilise key champions (stakeholders in the room today) to deliver and campaign.

We should articulate the Thames Valley ‘brand’ and create a market development plan. Many people do not know the exact area represented by the region. The overall message is that the Thames Valley is Open for Business so come here to grow and prosper.

For further details about our Business Manifesto work contact ianbinns@tvchamber.co.uk

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