Small manufacturers have a vital role to play in shaping a strategy for UK industry – but they need a clear, consistent vision from Government first.
This was one of the key messages at the East Midlands Manufacturing and Trade Conference 2023, in which business, industry and academic leaders came together to discuss opportunities and challenges.
More than 170 people attended the summit, organised by East Midlands Chamber in partnership with East Midlands Airport, Geldards and Loughborough University, which hosted the event at its West Park Teaching Hub.
It was the latest initiative in the Chamber’s engagement programme to develop insights behind its regional economic blueprint, titled A Centre of Trading Excellence: A Business Manifesto for Growth in the East Midlands and Beyond, which was launched in Westminster last autumn.
The 12-page manifesto is led by “The Big Opportunity” for Government to further develop the region’s key assets – its industrial heritage, leading-edge universities, central location and the country’s largest pure freight airport – to establish a formula for economic growth across UK regions as part of priority national agendas such as levelling up and net zero.
Chris Hobson, director of policy and insight at East Midlands Chamber, said: “It’s always important to tap into the knowledge base of our region’s manufacturing leaders, who live and breathe the everyday reality of running a business in an industry that holds the key to unlocking future economic prosperity but is also experiencing a long list of challenges.
“One of the threads that ran through several discussions was the importance of having a consistent, shared vision between Government and business.
“Policy has changed direction far too often, including numerous industrial strategies in recent times, for companies that require a stable environment to breed the certainty which ultimately leads to long-term investment plans.
“When creating this vision, it’s vital that SMEs are at the heart of it in a bottom-up approach, while it must also be underpinned by targeted public investment. For businesses, the message is they should also be willing to play an active role in these discussions with our policymakers.”