“This is a great place to do business” – that was the key message as business leaders from across Mid Sussex and the wider Greater Brighton region attended an event to hear its economic ambitions for the area.
Hosted in Burgess Hill at the offices of CAE, a worldwide leader in civil, business, and defence aviation training, more than seventy delegates from across the business community attended the event.
Hailed as the launch of the Mid Sussex District Council Economic Development Strategy, visitors were treated to a number of guest speakers highlighting why they had chosen Mid Sussex to grow their businesses.
In opening remarks, Sir Nicholas Soames, the MP for Mid Sussex, outlined the importance of work to strengthen the local economy in the light of Brexit.
He said: “Mid Sussex and its entrepreneurial business leaders have enormous potential that we must foster and support and so I do commend the Council’s work. I have been delighted to welcome a number of senior ministers to Mid Sussex over the last few months and all have made clear their desire to support the District’s ambitious plans.”
Jonathan Ash-Edwards, deputy leader of Mid Sussex District Council, then focused on the council’s ambition to transform the local economy and create thousands of new high value jobs in technology-led industries.
Cllr Ash-Edwards said: “Our Economic Development Strategy focuses on four key themes of Place, Premises, People and Promotion. Taken together the actions under each of these themes will help to deliver a transformed Mid Sussex that is not only a great place to live and a great place to visit but also a great place to do business.”
The first of the guest speakers – Wayne Channon, Chairman of Cells4Life and Stabilitech – outlined his reasons for moving from London to Mid Sussex to grow his biotech businesses.
He said: “Moving to Mid Sussex allowed me the room to grow my two businesses, Stabilitech and Cells4Life.
“Access to a highly skilled workforce and a strong supply of skilled graduates looking to work in Sussex means we are that much closer to our goal of developing pioneering new approaches in delivering and administering vaccines.”
Wayne was followed by Justin Thomas, Director at NewRiver REIT, who outlined his company’s ambitious £65 million investment to regenerate Burgess Hill town centre.
Justin said: “We have identified Burgess Hill as one of our key investment opportunities with its large catchment area and fast growing population. We have exciting plans underway to help transform the town centre to include a new cinema, hotel, significantly enhanced retail and leisure offer together with a full centre refurbishment for Burgess Hill.”
The final speaker of the evening, Adam Tickell, vice chancellor of the University of Sussex – another Greater Brighton member – rounded off the event by explaining how Mid Sussex can attract a large number of university graduates into the workforce.
He said: “We have a large number of highly skilled undergraduates who progress through the university with many looking for high-tech roles without having to move out of the area.”
He also emphasised the importance to the economy of the groundbreaking research undertaken by universities like Sussex.