STROUD’S new Growth Hub at SGS College will, I am sure, give support for business a long overdue kick-start for the area.
When it opens at the college early next year, I hope it will act as a catalyst to persuade the district council to put more effort into supporting local business.
I find it amazing there are something like 5,800 companies in the Five Valleys.
That’s more than Gloucester, more than Cheltenham and more than Tewkesbury.
Remarkably, more than one fifth of the whole county total.
To me, the smaller companies here need more support, both to start up and then help to grow the local economy.
I am enthusiastic about the new Stroud Growth Hub because, being part of the college, it is in a unique place to encourage young people studying there, particularly, to start their own business with solid free advice.
SGS has a great record for apprenticeships and STEM courses at Berkeley Green where I have been impressed by the enthusiasm of our engineers of the future.
There are many sole traders and micro businesses in Stroud and the Five Valleys with many of them using home as their work base.
It is for these small businesses, especially, that I believe the free business advice at the Growth Hub will be very welcome.
GFirstLEP has already set up Growth Hubs in Gloucester, Tewkesbury and will be opening another in the Forest of Dean this summer.
So, there will be learnings to be taken on board with the opening of the Stroud centre.
But I think it will be important that the district council plays its part and pushes its benefits.
Surely, this is the time and opportunity for councillors to develop a clear business development strategy?
The new Growth Hub must just be the foundation for that plan.
Ian Mean is on the board of GFirstLEP with a brief to represent SMEs.