East Suffolk Partnership Board 18 September Supporting East Suffolk Business Associations to Deliver Growth Vibrant Economy Working Group

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1 East Suffolk Partnership Board 18 September 2013 Supporting East Suffolk Business Associations to Deliver Growth Vibrant Economy Working Group 1. Introduction 1.1 A meeting of East Suffolk Business Associations, hosted by the ESP on the 17 th June, identified some of the specific issues faced by these organisations and the impact that these have on their ability to deliver their plans for growth. 1.2 This report explores the opportunities by which the East Suffolk Partnership can engage with business associations and support their ambitions to deliver growth locally. It also identifies three outcome based priorities that will ensure that the aims and ambitions of the ESP are met. The board is asked to: i. Agree that the outcomes identified satisfy the aims of the East Suffolk Partnership. ii. Allocate appropriate ESP Funding for the delivery of the identified areas of work. 2. Project Outcomes 2.1 Business Associations located in East Suffolk will have sufficient operational capacity to realise their plans for growth. Supporting the operational capacity of the business associations will mean that they are able to employ the resources they require in order to deliver their identified priorities for business growth. 2.2 Business Associations will be supported to develop an East Suffolk Business Network. The East Suffolk Business Network will provide a mechanism by which the East Suffolk Partnership can engage directly with the business associations in East Suffolk. The ESBN will develop and promote a wider network of businesses, local government and specialist organisations. And will encourage the development of mutually beneficial partnerships that can draw upon shared expertise and resources and facilitate the implementation of County and District growth strategies. 2.3 The East Suffolk Business Network can then be commissioned to develop a programme of activity that will help businesses to develop new Routes to Market. Access to markets remains a key barrier to growth for business. The East Suffolk Business Network will support the growth and development of existing routes to market such as the Suffolk Coast Business Exhibition (HCMTI) and the Suffolk Business Exhibition (ISSBA). It will also explore the development of new platforms by which businesses can grow. This may include meet the buyer and international trade events.

2 3. Business Associations located in East Suffolk will have sufficient operational capacity to realise their plans for growth. 3.1 Within East Suffolk, there are many independent business associations that work hard to meet the needs of their respective business communities. These business associations are mostly tied to their geography in that they have emerged from the towns and business communities that they serve and whose membership are often, but not exclusively, small and micro businesses. Whilst they have an excellent understanding of local need, their tight locality based membership can mean that revenues generated through a subscription based membership lacks economy of scale and is therefore insufficient to allow the business associations to grow and develop the means to deliver their objectives. 3.2 It is proposed that the East Suffolk Partnership funds an initial twelve month programme of activity that would enable the business associations in east Suffolk to develop their plans for organisational and economic growth and to develop an East Suffolk Business Network that is capable of drawing on the resources and opportunities presented by the Suffolk Growth Strategy. 4. Project Need 4.1 The Economic Development team at Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils works with and has supported several of the business associations within their district and are therefore aware of issues faced by many of the business associations. Members of the business associations are often the owners of small and micro businesses who are time limited and unable to commit to extended periods of the voluntary work required to drive their associations forward A meeting of East Suffolk Business Associations, hosted by the ESP on the 17 th June, identified a need for human resources that would provide the means by which the business associations could turn strategy into action. 4.3 In addition to the capacity issues faced by the business associations, it is necessary to consider the needs and opportunities presented by the development and publication of the Suffolk Growth Strategy, the New Anglia LEP Towards a Growth Plan and the emergent East Suffolk Growth Strategy. 4.4 In considering this, it is apparent that there are synergies between each of the above strategies and the aspirations and needs of the East Suffolk Partnership and the business associations; particularly in respect of skills development and business support. This presents a unique opportunity where the ESP can help the business associations position themselves where they are able to capitalise on the opportunities presented to them and avoid any duplication of effort. 5. Context 5.1 The Business Association Landscape in East Suffolk In the districts of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney, there are in excess of twenty independent business associations. These business associations cater for the needs of some sixteen hundred businesses and represent a diverse range of business sectors including ICT, Retail, Professional Services, Creative Media, Manufacturing, Tourism, Logistics and Food, Drink and Agriculture.

3 They provide a number of services to their members such as networking opportunities, access to business support, training and development events; and of course provide an important voice for the business community. Whilst it is accepted that it would be both impracticable and costly for the ESP to fund individual business associations; it is possible for the ESP to support those existing clusters of business associations that exist by nature of their location across Waveney and Suffolk Coastal. By exploring the natural clusters of business associations in East Suffolk, we can identify an initial core of three organisations that should benefit from ESP capacity funding; The Waveney Business Forum, The Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative and The Felixstowe Chamber of Trade & Commerce. In addition, it is proposed that other independent business associations in Suffolk Coastal and Waveney could be supported through the East Suffolk Business Network. This could include; Woodbridge Town Centre Management Ltd. (Choose Woodbridge), Wickham Market Town Team and The Orford Business Association. 5.2 Waveney Business Forum The Waveney Business Forum brings together representatives from existing business associations, trade associations and chamber of commerce groups within the Waveney area. The Waveney Business Forum is supported financially and administratively by Waveney District Council. This support is due to be reviewed at the end of the current financial year. The founding partner associations represent the market towns of Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Southwold and Lowestoft. The wider Waveney area is also supported through the Lowestoft & Waveney Chamber of Commerce and the Waveney and Great Yarmouth branch of the Federation of Small Business. Their full membership is listed below: Halesworth Business Connections Beccles Business and Tourism Association Bungay Chamber of Trade Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce Kirkley Business Association Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce Lowestoft Town Management Partnership Waveney and Great Yarmouth Federation of Small Businesses The WBF has had a constitution in place since June 2011 and produces an annual business plan. Through its lead partners, the WBF reaches approximately eight hundred businesses in the district and seeks to grow and increase its engagement across all business sectors. The main aim of the WBF is to provide a collective voice for the business communities of Waveney on a range of local and national issues. They wish to develop their organisational capability and have recently commissioned and published the Waveney Town Centre Study ; a comprehensive review of the vitality and viability of the high streets in Waveney for which they are seeking to develop a suitable implementation plan (appendix 1).

4 5.3 Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative The Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative was originally borne from the need to support the development of business associations in Aldeburgh, Leiston and Saxmundham. Today, the business associations are thriving and membership now includes the market town of Framlingham and employs the services of a part time Project Co-ordinator. Historically, the HCMTI has received a mix of funding from Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk County Council, The Suffolk Coastal LSP and other funding organisations. The stated HCMTI mission is to encourage greater sustainability and promote trading, services and tourism across the Heritage Coast towns of Aldeburgh, Leiston, Saxmundham and Framlingham and their respective postal areas. The HCMTI works with a range of public and private sector partners to develop the overall economy; the Business Associations and the individual businesses in the region and works closely with education providers to maximise employment opportunities. Marketing and Promotional activities are implemented to encourage inward investment and tourism. The Board includes one representative from each Business Association who gives their time on a voluntary basis, and work with funders and the Project Coordinator to implement plans for the longer term sustainability of the HCMTI project. The members of HCMTI are listed below; Aldeburgh Business Association Framlingham Business Association Leiston Business Association Businesses of Saxmundham The HCMTI has been recognised nationally for their achievements in developing a cooperative approach to business support and development through their Where s Rudolph? campaign; and in 2013 they delivered the first, and highly successful Suffolk Coast Business Exhibition. The HCMTI Board represents a collective membership of approximately five hundred businesses and is currently developing a new business plan and identifying the options for future growth of the organisation. 5.4 Felixstowe Chamber of Trade & Commerce Felixstowe Chamber describes itself as an association, run by volunteers from the local business community. Their stated objectives and aims are to support local businesses and promote the town s trade and commerce. This is achieved by providing a social framework for contact between businesses, and acting as their representative body at local, national and international level. The Chamber is represented on external groups and committees such as the Felixstowe Town Centre Management Group, The Felixstowe and Trimleys Peninsula Futures Group, Resort Regeneration Forum, Felixstowe Mobile CCTV Steering Group and Felixstowe Community Tasking Group (Safer Neighbourhoods). In early 2013, the Chamber received a development grant from Suffolk Coastal District Council to support their organisational growth. Since then, the Chamber has developed a business plan designed to grow their membership; they have upgraded their ageing website and employ a part time administrator.

5 5.5 Summary The business associations in East Suffolk provide a valuable service to their members. They are a collective voice for the business community and act as conduit for business support and networking. Together, they represent a significant number of the small and micro businesses in East Suffolk and given the resources, have the potential to reach significantly more businesses in both the urban and rural areas of East Suffolk. ESP funding for the named business organisations will allow them to employ or retain the human resources necessary for them to develop and grow. They would also be in a strong position to turn strategy into action and deliver economic growth. 6. Business Associations will be supported to develop an East Suffolk Business Network. 6.1 Project Need 6.2 Limited capacity is not the only issue to affect business associations. There is a need for them to be in a position where they are able to draw upon the expertise and resources of the wider economic community. Currently, no single organisation exists in East Suffolk that is capable of reaching out and engaging collectively with the businesses associations and their members. 6.3 The East Suffolk Business Network will provide a mechanism by which the East Suffolk Partnership can engage directly with the business associations in East Suffolk. It will develop a wider network of businesses, local government and specialist organisations. It will encourage the development of mutually beneficial partnerships that can draw upon the collective expertise and resources and facilitate the drawing down of funds and the implementation of County and District growth strategies. 7. Project Scope 7.1 The business support landscape, in its broadest context, is complex. There are a significant number of specialist organisations, agencies and businesses who can provide funding and expertise to business associations and their members. 7.2 However, the ability of business associations to access this expertise and for specialists to be able to deliver it can be difficult. Earlier in this report, it was recognised that for the implementation of growth strategies, it will be necessary to engage with businesses. To do this at a county wide level will be difficult for those tasked with delivery. 7.3 The ESP is therefore in a position to support the development of an East Suffolk Business Network that will facilitate business engagement along the Suffolk Coast. It would bring together the business associations and their representatives, the New Anglia LEP, business support organisations, larger business associations such as the FSB and Chamber of Commerce. It would also allow education providers to engage with and understand the needs of business. This is illustrated on the next page.

6 Business Associations East Suffolk Business Network Delivery Partners (proposed) Waveney Business forum Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative Felixstowe Chamber of Trade & Commerce Other independent business associations A platform for business engagement. A platform for direct support of business associations A platform to add value, share expertise and resources East Suffolk Partnership New Anglia Menta & NWES The Suffolk Chamber Federation of Small Business ISSBA District & County Councils Job Centre Plus Otley College Lowestoft College OUTPUTS 8. Summary 8.1 An East Suffolk Business Network will provide a mechanism by which the ESP can engage directly with the business associations in East Suffolk. It will be supported in the development of a wider network of businesses, local government and specialist organisations. And will encourage the development of mutually beneficial partnerships that can draw upon shared expertise and resources and facilitate the implementation of County and District growth strategies. 8.2 It is proposed that the East Suffolk Business Network is funded for an initial period of twelve months and that the business associations, in conjunction with the District Councils and ESP, develop a work programme that supports these aspirations. 9. The East Suffolk Business Network can then be commissioned to develop a programme of activity that will help businesses to develop new Routes to Market. 9.1 Project Scope 9.2 Access to markets remains a key barrier to growth for business. Businesses need to be presented with opportunities that will allow them to grow. These opportunities exist in both international and domestic markets but accessing them can be difficult. The barriers preventing the access to markets can be through a lack of knowledge or skill or simply the lack of opportunity to meet the customer. 9.3 It is proposed that the East Suffolk Business Network is commissioned to develop a twelve month rolling programme of activity that facilitates business access to new and existing markets; 1. The East Suffolk Business Network will support the growth and development of existing routes to market such as the Suffolk Coast Business Exhibition (HCMTI) and the Suffolk Business Exhibition (ISSBA). 2. The East Suffolk Business Network will develop of a programme of meet the buyer and supply chain events in East Suffolk

7 3. The East Suffolk Business Network will develop a programme of international trade events in East Suffolk. 9.4 Summary 9.5 ESP funding will help businesses to access both the markets that they already serve and explore the opportunities presented by new and international markets. 10. Project Finance 10.1 The following budgets are indicative and based upon the authors experience of previous projects and activities. Match funding will be secured from appropriate delivery partners as the development work progresses. Outcome 1: Capacity Building Funding will provide capacity resources for three identified business associations in East Suffolk. Total project costs 35,000 Match funding sought 12,250 Total amount of ESP funding required 22,750 Outcome 2: East Suffolk Business Network Funding will provide development funding for an initial series of three ESBN meetings. Total project costs 10,000 Match funding sought 3,500 Total amount of ESP funding required 6,500 Outcome 3: Routes to Market Funding will fund the development of six events in East Suffolk. Total project costs 20,000 Match funding sought 7,000 Total amount of ESP funding required 13,000

8 Appendix 1 Project Proposal: Waveney Business Forum - Town Centre Growth & Sustainability Project Outline The WBF identified the town centres of Waveney as their first priority. As a result of this, WBF commissioned the Waveney Town Centre Study in In July 2013, the results of this study were presented to the business community in Waveney. The aims of the study were to understand the factors important for the retail performance of the Waveney market towns and to explore what changes needs to be addressed in order to improve the vitality of the town centres. Workshops have been held at various locations in order to identify and develop ideas that will address the issues identified in the study. It is clear from the workshops that many proposals have been put forward by the business groups. However, limited financial resource means that the business associations lack the ability to co-ordinate and develop these proposals into workable projects. The East Suffolk Partnership is being asked to contribute financial support to the Waveney Business Forum in order that it is able to develop and deliver its ambitions for a high street retail revival. Project Outcomes 1. Each market town in Waveney will own a Town Centre Development Plan that will underpin and guide the economic development of their commercial centres. 2. The number of vacant business premises in the high street will be reduced. 3. Footfall in the High Streets will increase. 4. Jobs in retail and professional services will be safeguarded and will grow. 5. The vitality and vibrancy of the Waveney market towns will be enhanced Project Finance Project delivery will be dependent upon the successful draw down of ESP funding provided to the East Suffolk Business Network for business association capacity building. The following indicative costs are for project delivery only; Total project costs 15,000 Match funding sought 5,250 Total amount of ESP funding required 9,750

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