Partnership working to promote the Isle of Wight and grow the local economy was at the top of the agenda at the IW Chamber of Commerce’s annual Cowes Week Lunch. The Chamber’s President Geoff Underwood welcomed more than 90 guests to the Solent Events Marquee at Cowes Yacht Haven. Representatives from a wide range of Island businesses and sectors heard from council leader Dave Stewart and the event was also attended by Norman Arnold, the vice-chair of the Island’s FSB. The Chamber’s Chief Executive Kevin Smith also welcomed Chamber board members to lunch, including Betapak’s Peter Tomlinson, Vikoma’s Karen Lucas, Steve Porter and Lifeline’s Mark Lee.

The Cowes Week Lunch saw the official unveiling of the Chamber’s new Isle of Wight Business Ambassador scheme. Key Island business people will be invited to represent the Island whenever and wherever they are working or networking. The ambassadors will promote the Isle of Wight as a great place to live and work, encouraging other companies to relocate here, growing the Island’s business base.

Chamber President Geoff Underwood said:
“We want to get people talking about the Isle of Wight and the amazing opportunities that are here for businesses. We’re looking for people with influence and connections off the Island who will spread the word and encourage businesses to invest and to relocate here. It’s an exciting time for the Chamber and the business community and if we can all work together as a team we can make the next few years a real success. I know that the newly elected council and our new MP share many of our ideals and ambitions and I’m looking forward to being able to work together in the future.”

The Island’s newest business ambassador was also named at the event; Cllr Dave Stewart was presented with an honorary badge by Geoff Underwood. The council leader made a short speech in which he highlighted the importance of the support of the Island’s business community.

“We are trying to do what’s right for the Island and we see ourselves as the enabling council. We are open for business. There are some amazing people doing amazing things on the Isle of Wight and we need to join things up. Chris Ashman and our new regeneration team are leading a real drive and our challenge as an authority is to continue to support that drive and we need the backup to make sure that happens. I’ve met with Kevin Smith a couple of times already now and I’m looking forward to working with the Chamber to help us to raise our game. We don’t have enough clout within the council to do it by ourselves. Working with partners is the way to go and for me it’s about networking with the key movers and shakers who can help us. We want to work with Island businesses across the board to make the Island a better place to live, work and to enjoy.”

Kevin Smith, the Chamber’s Chief Executive added:
“We welcome the newly elected council’s support for our on-going work to grow the Island’s economy. We look forward to working with the local authority as partners in the campaign to promote the Island to potential investors. The future of the Island’s economy is bigger than party politics and the personal battles that have often hijacked this agenda in the past. The Chamber, along with the FSB, is excited by the chance to work together to represent the Island’s business community and make the Isle of Wight an even more attractive place to do business.”

From left, Kevin Smith, IW Chamber Chief Executive, Cllr Dave Stewart, Leader, Isle of Wight Council, Geoff Underwood, IW Chamber President, Norman Arnold, Isle of Wight FSB Vice-chair and Peter Tomlinson, Vice President, IW Chamber. 31 July 2017.

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