A meeting between key Island business representatives and the Council’s new leader and Regeneration team has been hailed as a success.

As part of his ongoing efforts to engage Island business representatives with education providers, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Dave Stewart organised a very successful meeting at County Hall on Thursday 2 March. Those present considered issues and challenges faced by businesses in developing growth on the Island and how this impacts on the career aspirations of young Islanders. Over 25 people attended the event and explored how they could work better together to improve the situation and to enable local businesses to share what is on offer with schools, so that the future workforce knows just what is available to them on the Isle of Wight.

Business representatives also had an opportunity to engage with the newly appointed Regeneration team, who provided an engaging presentation on their role and priorities for the Island. Speaking after the meeting Councillor Stewart said: “This was an excellent meeting, and through the sharing of information and ideas we have really moved forward with our plans for Island regeneration.

“There were plenty of offers from businesses to work with the council and I am really inspired by the level of commitment this approach is now generating. For me, this is in many ways what this job is all about; enabling our own highly skilled businesses and educational professionals to get together and work up plans for the rejuvenation of the Island. Let’s not forget that there are already some great opportunities on the Island. We must now continue to build on the aspirations and skills we have, to grow our economy for the benefit of everyone on the Island.”

In order to best shape the future ambitions of this integrated model of planning and working, the council will next seek to meet with young Islanders; particularly those in the 15 – 18 age bracket. An event is being planned for April.

Those attending the meeting were pleased to have the opportunity to engage with the council, other businesses and education providers about how best to progress the regeneration ambitions for the Island.

Peter Tomlinson, Chief Executive of Betapak Ltd and vice president of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, said: “It was a most encouraging meeting. The new council leadership clearly wanted to engage and listen to what private businesses and educational leaders had to say, and to use their input to create strategies that we could all agree to, and work towards. This is welcome progress, as too often in the past the council has set their own priorities and agenda, without reference to the private sector, which has caused conflict and misalignment.”

“If we are to make a difference on the Island, it has to come from close partnership between the private sector, the Chamber of Commerce, the education sector and council. Only by working together on mutually agreed objectives can we expect to see real progress being made. Hopefully this is an important first step towards achieving that.”

Steve Smith, managing director of PE Composites, said: “At [the] meeting, you organised to rejuvenate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Isle of Wight; it was refreshing to see people from commerce, industry, education and councillors all enthused and excited about working together to develop a united strategy for improving the GDP of the Island.”

Kevin George, managing director of Red Funnel, said: “It is fantastic to see strategic ambition in the thinking for the future of the Island’s economy and that there is a real sense of leadership to make positive change”

Rachel Randall, Chief Executive of HTP Apprenticeship College, said: “The meeting was very positive and I felt there was a real will from everyone in the room to work together for the good of the Isle of Wight.”

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