Bracknell Forest is well placed to recover from the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and is on track to have a positive future according to business experts.
The Bracknell Forest Economic, Skills and Development Partnership (ESDP) summer conference heard from a number of speakers who discussed the borough’s economic renewal, resilience, and recovery last month.
Fujitsu’s Head of Property, Paul Brown, highlighted how the company was embracing change, including continuing with a hybrid working system (working from home and in the office) post-pandemic and to increase wellbeing support and opportunities for colleagues.
Meanwhile, Alison Webster from the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) highlighted how Bracknell was continuing to flourish economically. She also discussed the wider Berkshire economy, with the area remaining the most productive sub-region outside of London.
Delegates from businesses and support organisations across the borough heard how local organisations provide a strong offering to ensure productivity remains high, such as the LEP’s focus on upskilling. This was also discussed by Olu Odeniyi, from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), who explained the support that the FSB offers to small businesses, making it easier for them to recover from the economic effects of COVID-19.
Chris Dunbar, from KPMG, was also invited to speak and address concerns cited in the company’s report in January which placed Bracknell as the most vulnerable of 109 towns and cities in England, a claim which has been refuted locally by business experts. Mr Dunbar explained the report was not a long-term prediction, but that town centres across the UK would need to evolve and embrace change to reduce economic vulnerability.
The conference heard how the KPMG report missed out the effect of hybrid working and is one example of embracing change to ensure economic success and productivity.
Bob Collis, Chair of the ESDP, said:
“It was great to hear such positive views on Bracknell Forest’s future from the speakers and delegates. We were all so pleased to be in a room together, rather than online, and able to talk about how local businesses will recover from the pandemic.
“These are difficult and challenging times, but Bracknell Forest has a strong business community and plenty of know-how to ensure that it continues to be a great place for businesses to grow. I am grateful to all the speakers who made the event so worthwhile and to Easthampstead Park Hotel for sponsoring the event.”
Cllr. Marc Brunel Walker, Executive Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said:
“This was an exciting and successful event, bringing together local stakeholders to help develop the borough’s economic recovery and renewal.
“Spending time making connections and sharing ideas at events such as this is a great way to develop meaningful partnerships, enabling local businesses to thrive.
“The success of the event is testament to the positive impact the ESDP has on Bracknell Forest. I have no doubt the information and networking gained from this event will go on to benefit local organisations and residents in many ways.”