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Fast Track to Growth and Western Morning News provided a discussion platform for business leaders in Exeter last week.
The ‘Growth Beyond Brexit’ event gave people the chance to focus on the business opportunities and challenges, and share perspectives and ideas with Brexit due to take place in less than 100 days.
The roundtable discussion, held at Stephens Scown’s Exeter office, was attended by keys employers and FT2G partners including Reach plc, Pennon Group, Stephen Scown, PFK Francis Clark, Computech, Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Foot Anstey, Astley Media, Momentum SW and South West Business Support Solutions.
Sarah Heald, Director of Corporate Affairs & Investor Relations at Pennon Group, said: “The draft Brexit deal is a compromise but it does provide what businesses have been calling for and that is certainty. We need to be able to plan, invest and think about the future.”
The discussion covered the need to invest in technology and skills, the planning that businesses need to be doing, and the opportunities and challenges in sectors including tourism, agriculture, services beyond Brexit.
Lewis Banfield, of FT2G partner Francis Clark PKF, said: “No matter what deal we may or may not reach with the EU in the run up to March 2019, or even if we end up with another referendum, the next few months and beyond will be unprecedented in terms of uncertainty and change. All businesses need to plan to manage this uncertainty, particularly those trading with overseas suppliers or customers. Change often leads to opportunity for those who have prepared and thought through their approach.”
Colin Jolliffe, SW Business Support Solutions and FT2G Partner, said that low unemployment in the region added extra pressure.
He said: “Unless we attract people into the south west we are going to have a real shortage not just of skilled people but of unskilled people and this is one of the biggest concerns.”
Later that day, Fast Track to Growth welcomed new members at Hotel du Vin, giving businesses the chance to meet the partners and find out more about this year’s programme.
Last year’s FT2G pitch winners, Andrew Lavendar of Pixalytics and Chris Harris, of House of Harris, both spoke of their experiences and benefits of the free support received through the programme.
For more information about Devon’s free business support programme FT2G www.ft2g.co.uk