Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) builds momentum for a thriving economy

Photo caption: Speakers from 5 November FEP Stakeholder meeting showcasing the new Gloucestershire College Cinderford Campus (From left to right) Ian Mean – Business West, Andrew Maliphant – The Community Works, Wendy Jackson - Regeneration Manager Forest of Dean District Council (FoDDC), Andrew Callard – FEP Chair/Aimed Business, Cllr. Roger James – Deputy Leader of FoDDC, Cllr. Tim Gwilliam – Leader of FODDC. 

As 2018 draws to a close the Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) is gearing up for an action driven 2019 and is encouraging all local businesses, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) and entrepreneurs to sign up and have their voices heard.

Launched in January this year with a handful of Stakeholders, FEP now has over 150 members representing more than 100 organisations and businesses. In its inaugural year FEP has secured significant commitment from its business members, including 4 business volunteers who fulfil the roles of FEP Chair and Sub-Group Leads.

FEP was formed to give the Forest of Dean a voice in the Glos2050 big conversation and to deliver a thriving and sustainable economy. This aim is already coming to fruition by bringing the right people together at the right time to communicate the message that ‘The Forest of Dean is well and truly open for business.’

The four SME led sub-groups in relation to Digital Connectivity, Education & Skills, Bridges & Borders and Transport & Infrastructure have been meeting monthly to identify key issues and objectives for the District and are now forming clear and action oriented plans for 2019.

Andrew Callard, FEP Chair, shared these plans with the attendees of the 5 November Stakeholder meeting at the new Gloucestershire College Campus, leaving members with the clear message that exciting times are ahead for the District in 2019 and beyond.

The Forest of Dean has historically been poor at shouting about its successes, a message reinforced at the meeting by Ian Mean, Business West Director and Small Business Champion for GFirst LEP,

“The Forest Economic Partnership has now been going for nine months, and has produced a set of excellent plans that bode well for the economic growth of the area.

I am impressed that there is now a driving leadership for the FEP - with plans to match - in the person of Andrew Callard who is a good marketing man.

Those plans to develop growth seem realistic. And I would go as far as to say that I have never seen a better set of plans to deliver such realistic economic growth for a rural community.

But if the Forest is to make real progress, they must get better at shouting about their successes.”

Keen to turn this perception around, FEP is more than happy to celebrate and shout about their successes of 2018. In the first year we have proactively engaged with key organisations, lobbied key network providers and improved communication to our businesses via a dedicated Twitter handle @FEP2050 #FOD2050.

Bringing businesses and schools together via the Education and Skills sub-group has already resulted in the introduction of a governor-approved Flexible Work Placement Scheme at Dene Magna School, improving the flexibility for students looking for work experience opportunities. The formation of an action group is looking to build on this success, by delivering an ‘Inspiring the Forest’ event programme for 2019 to highlight Forest businesses and raise aspirations.

FEP has a voice that is rapidly growing in stature and recognition. Having already contributed to a number of key consultations, including Glos2050, Cross-Rail Franchise, Dene Magna Sixth Form, House of Lords Select Committee Rural Economy and Forest Community Hospital, they have now been invited to consult on the Forest of Dean Local Plan 2041. This is a huge milestone for FEP, for the first time giving Forest businesses the opportunity to influence Council plans and play a part in shaping the District.

The FEP vision that 'in 2050 the Forest of Dean is an attractive, vibrant and dynamic destination to live, work and do business' is absolutely on track.

Ends

Issued by: Deb Harris, debbie.harris@fdean.gov.uk

For more information contact: Wendy.Jackson@fdean.gov.uk or debbie.harris@fdean.gov.uk

Editor Note

The Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) was launched by the Forest of Dean District Council early 2018, is working to bring local businesses, business clubs, schools, colleges and public sector organisations together, to shape the economic future of the Forest of Dean.

Participation is via quarterly stakeholder meetings and monthly sub-group meetings looking at issues and opportunities in relation to Digital Connectivity, Education & Skills, Transport & Infrastructure and Bridges and Borders.

 

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