After a fantastic end to 2015, we’re looking forward to 2016 being a year of opportunities for businesses in Northamptonshire.
So much has happened in the short time Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce (incorporating its sister company Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce) became double award winners at the prestigious national Chamber Awards 2015, organised by the British Chambers of Commerce. Let me begin by telling you that in the past few weeks we have formally announced our new board directors and welcomed two Business Alliance Group(BAG) partners to the Chamber. Both announcements will complement the existing skills and experience of the Chamber board and BAG group and help shape the future business landscape in Northamptonshire for the benefit of other companies.
‘Confidence amongst the county’s firms remained high in the last quarter’
This month Northamptonshire Chamber also published the results of its Quarterly Economic Survey(QES) for Q4 of 2015 which showed confidence amongst the county’s firms remained high in the last quarter. Given the challenging global environment, it’s no surprise the responses revealed that Northamptonshire’s service sector was the main driver of growth in the local economy with UK sales rising in the fourth quarter. Overall, the service sector picked up more pace than their manufacturing counterparts. It is also good news to hear that employment is likely to pick up again in the New Year with 29% of manufacturing businesses stating their workforce would increase, and a third of service-based firms sharing the same recruitment ambitions. Despite its weaker performance in the export market, I personally believe that manufacturing plays a vital part in the UK economy.
So what do we have planned for 2016 to support businesses?
‘We are continuing our drive to help build a stronger local economy’
As the UK’s official best chamber of commerce and holder of ‘Excellence in Membership Services Award,’ (and being the only chamber in the country to retain the latter category two years running), we are continuing our drive to help build a stronger local economy and are enhancing our offering as a result.
In Northamptonshire, we are the lead provider of international trade support in the county, as such, we are continuing to work with organisations such as UK Trade & Investment to promote events to businesses wishing to extend their international reach. On 29 January we are holding a free seminar Russia – A Renewed Optimism. Run in partnership with Trudos International, this event will allow first-time and existing exporters to discover what the Russian market has to offer. Then on 12 February we are running a breakfast seminar called Are You Ready for China? Keep an eye on our international trade page for more information about our current and forthcoming export events.
‘Plans are under way for our first Business Exhibition of 2016’
I’m also pleased to reveal that plans are under way for our first Business Exhibition of 2016 which will be hosted at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club on 10 March. This free to attend event is open to the whole business community, not just Chamber members, and is a fantastic chance to showcase the diverse nature of businesses in Northamptonshire and the array products and services offered by the county’s firms. Don’t miss this opportunity to build contacts, network and gain knowledge on topical business issues from our Chamber members.
‘13 new scheduled courses added to the training calendar’
From April, Northamptonshire Chamber will have 13 new scheduled courses added to its training calendar to help businesses upskill their staff and remain competitive. The topics range from managing change, improving negotiating skills and sales for non-sales professionals. More details will be released nearer the time. Please check our training page www.northants-chamber.co.uk/training.
Let me emphasise that this is only a taster of what’s to come as there are many more exciting business support projects on the horizon. So watch out 2016, here we come!