On Tuesday 9 Jan, SO Business launched the South Oxfordshire District Council Business and Innovation (BIS) Strategy Action Plan, which outlines to businesses how the council will support them to overcome challenges and make the most of opportunities to flourish and grow. The evening also saw the launch of SO Business’ 2018 events programme, which is available to view here.
The event opened with a speech from Councillor Rob Simister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at South Oxfordshire District Council, outlining the process behind the plan’s creation and the reasons behind it.
Councillor Simister said, “Small and medium businesses make up 82 per cent of all employment in our district and the action plan demonstrates our commitment to support local enterprises to boost the local economy.”
He added, “If you are considering starting a business, growing your business or need a point in the right direction, I encourage you to contact us for support and advice.”
The Plan outlines four key actions, why action is needed and how the district council will achieve this:
The district council has invested £1,090,000 in the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme and is working with businesses to identify where the service needs improving. Superfast broadband helps businesses to work smarter and results in a fast and reliable service.
The district council will offer support in looking for an innovative space for business. Improving signposting of available premises and supporting the availability of high quality, affordable workspace will ensure that there is an adequate area for businesses to grow.
Skills and employment
Businesses have informed the district council that they need assistance in attracting young and recently-graduated skilled staff in key sectors. The SO Business team will promote career opportunities in local businesses to schools and local job seekers and will work with business to see if apprenticeships or interns are appropriate.
Business support and communication
The SO Business website and fortnightly newsletter makes it easier for businesses to find contemporary and relevant information about available support. Throughout 2018 the SO Business team will deliver a full programme of events and workshops in partnership with local businesses and other organisations.
The event also saw a speech from Ned Wells, CEO of Zanzi Digital, one of the businesses that has successfully worked with the SO Business team. Ned talked about some of the communication techniques that can be effective for gaining new clients, and retaining them. As a digital marketing agency you would be surprised to hear that it’s not all about your online presence!
There was also a fascinating presentation from Nicky Stallwood, who is Personal Development Curriculum Manager at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, on the importance of work experience. Children who have experienced the world of work in this way are drastically less likely to become NEET (not in education, employment or training) at the point of leaving school.
The night rounded off with a Q & A session including the speakers and a chance to network.
Thanks to The Old Counting House in Wallingford, a centre for small businesses providing the ideal environment for business start-ups and SMEs, who donated the venue space.