The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce held its Annual General Meeting on 6th October at the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes, over a networking lunch.
IW Chamber President Jonathan Thornton welcomed members to the AGM and he presented awards to Wight Computers, Go Internet, Tapnell Farm Group, Spence Willard and RPL Construction marking 10 years of membership. Hydromar and Mountbatten received silver awards for 20 years of membership.
The Chamber’s Chief Executive Steven Holbrook spoke to look back on a “tough year, but also a good year” for the organisation.
“From COVID to the cost of living crisis it’s been another difficult year for many Island businesses, especially in the tourism sector. From all the data we are seeing along with anecdotal evidence, numbers are down and I think that’s impacted on a lot of businesses, wider than just tourism. Spending power and disposable income have taken a hit.
“What we learned from COVID is that when things are tough, the Chamber is even more important. It really does do a lot of good work when people are struggling and when things aren’t going well. We really appreciate all your support, throughout the year. Everything we do is funded totally by the membership. We don’t rely on any government funding or contracts.
“The Isle of Wight Lottery, as of today, has pumped over £1.2 million into the Island economy with interest-free loans, creating well over 400 jobs. Some very large and successful businesses on the Island would not exist without the support of the Chamber and the Isle of Wight Lottery.
“I’d like to mention Westfield Health, a healthcare package available to members, which offers a huge amount of cover at incredible value, at a time when the NHS is under tremendous pressure and businesses are keen to incentivise and hold on to staff. Our Chamber advice lines are essential when things get tough. Chamber HR and the Legal Advice Line provide crucial advice and the value gained from a single call, often pays for membership in a single conversation.
“The British Chambers of Commerce is increasingly a global voice for business. As part of that network the IW Chamber has a loud voice, helping present the views of the business community to government in the most powerful way.
“It’s been a tough year, but also a good one. Looking forward, there are lots of good things on the horizon. The Chamber is increasing its team, with two new staff members starting soon. We’re also relocating to brand new premises at Branstone Business Park in Arreton. So it’s a new era for the Chamber and I’d like to pay special thanks to my team as always. They do an incredible job. With a very small team, we really punch above our weight.”
“It’s great to see everybody here today, there’s a real buzz in the room, with businesses of all different sectors represented by the Chamber as the voice of Island business. It’s very important in increasingly challenging times to be able to support one another as businesses and as individuals. The work that the Chamber continues to do, often behind the scenes, is really important and the team at the Chamber are amazing.” Jonathan Thornton, IW Chamber President