Hemel Hempstead’s business community welcomed Greg Clark (above), Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, to the launch of its Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors scheme this morning.
Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Buncefield fire, the HHBA launch aims to build on Hemel’s recovery from the devastating blaze and promote the town as a place to build a business.
Sally Marshall, chief executive of Dacorum Borough Council, put figures on the extent of the recovery: in 2005, there were 620 companies in the Maylands business area with 16,500 employees; there are now, after fire and recession, 700 businesses with 20,000 people. FFEI managing director Andy Cook, who chaired the meeting, added that the Maylands Business Centre, which opened in 2011, was fully occupied within a year by 30 businesses and there are plans for an additional building on an adjacent site.
Greg Clark said: ‘It’s our responsibility in central Government to back that success. I want to use my experience here today to boost the profile that Hemel Hempstead has. It’s a beacon for the whole of the rest of the country.’
At the launch HHBA focused on Hemel’s location at a transportation hub, the quality of support services and recruitment potential and the desirability of the area for quality of life. Its next meeting will be at the Natural History Museum, Tring, on 10 February at 8am.
HHBA will take as its model a scheme run by the consultancy Thinking Place in Coventry and Warwick. Sarah Perry, who ran the Coventry & Warwick Champions scheme for four years, said: ‘Coventry had been punching below its weight commercially for years, and Warwick was just known for Shakespeare. Initially there was a good deal of scepticism. Now we have 100 organisations contributing £150,000 a year as champions to help the area move on.’
For more information on Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors visit its website.