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East Midlands set to weather Brexit storm, Love Business Panel hears

East Midlands businesses are doing what they do best and just getting on with things rather than being distracted by Brexit.

That was the key takeaway from a Question Time-style panel discussion between senior business leaders at the region’s biggest B2B expo and networking event.

The panel, which included Government and business support representatives as well as prominent local business figures, met at Love Business 2019 to talk about the East Midlands’ prospects for the next 12 months.

2019 is set to be a significant year for the region, with Brexit on the horizon and the East Midlands Gateway development due to complete.

Love Business gave around 100 guests the opportunity to pitch their questions to a specially-selected panel of key business leaders about what the future may hold for the region.

The discussion was led by East Midlands Chamber’s Director of Policy, Chris Hobson, and made up of guests including Simon Hall from the Department of International Trade, Claire Walker from the British Chambers of Commerce, East Midlands Chamber President Kevin Harris, John Forkin of Marketing Derby, and Ioan Reed-Aspley of East Midlands Airport.

They were joined by local businesses including Andy Gilbert of Go Mad Thinking, Julia Fancourt from Beyond Supply Chain Results, and Rachel Morley from Spatial Global, who was also representing the British International Freight Association.

Claire Walker, from the British Chambers, said that the East Midlands was in a good place to weather the forthcoming Brexit storm, adding that where businesses in other regions seemed to be planning a bit more, our businesses are just getting on with things.

“One of the things we’ve been hearing from businesses across the country is that they can and want to plan for Brexit, but the answers aren’t there from Government and we’ve been working really hard to make sure the clarity that businesses need is there,” she said.

Marketing Derby’s John Forkin described the East Midlands as ‘quite a fragmented’ region because of its diverse make-up which, he said ‘could be both a strength and a weakness’. He said that there was a need for the region to collaborate on the big issues to be able to compete with other regions when it comes to attracting investment and support.

“When the East Midlands does come together to collaborate, we’re stronger for it.”, he continued. “Creating new partnerships, not reigniting old ones that were based on something different, is what we’re going to have to do a lot more of after Brexit.”

Ioan Aspley-Reed, from East Midlands Airport, said the East Midlands Gateway development due to open later in the year will help to cement the region’s reputation as a transport and logistics hub, providing businesses with links across the UK, Europe and beyond.

He said:

“Airports are engines of growth in their own right and there is probably no better example of the impact that they have on the area around them in stimulating growth as what is happening [with the East Midlands Gateway] at the moment."

And Rachel Morley said that there was a lot of information out there for hauliers and logistics firms concerned about the impact of Brexit on freight carriers, but said that the industry would weather the storm and find a way of overcoming any potential barriers.

Love Business 2019 attracted hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of delegates to the event, which took place yesterday at Holywell Park Conference Centre, Loughborough.

Now in its eighth year, the event has built a reputation as the region’s biggest B2B expo and a must-attend event in the East Midlands business calendar.

Event organiser Steve Megson, of Quiet Storm Solutions, said:

“Love Business 2019 was a huge success. One of the great things about the event is that it provides a fantastic platform for discussions like this to take place and give local businesses the opportunity to engage with some the key players across the East Midlands, nationally and in Government, to find out more about what’s going on and what’s being done to drive our economy forward.”

With thanks to East Midlands Chamber of Commerce for hosting this session.


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