AGM 2018

Introducing our 29th Annual General Meeting of Knowsley Chamber of Industry & Commerce

…and this is the full board report by the Chief Executive to our members

“A warm welcome to Knowsley Chamber’s 29th AGM, and thank you to our President, Lord Derby, for hosting today’s meeting.

The Chamber team is incredibly to the Members for their loyal and ongoing support. My thanks to the President, the Chairman Alan Seeley, and Vice-Chairman Edward Perry and of course all the non-Executive Directors who have given their time, commitment and advice to support me and the team during 2017 and 2018.  Special welcome to our 2 new non-executive directors, Cliff Kirby and Liam Hanlon who are attending their first AGM.

The AGM gives me the opportunity to provide you with insight and detail regarding our strengths and opportunities, both in context of the Chamber and the borough of Knowsley. Whilst we may be sailing into unchartered waters over the next 100 days I wish to convey to you a message of ambition and conviction.

In September 2015, the business support service in Knowsley was transformed into the Growth Hub and there has been a determination to create a single point of access for all business support. In order to capitalise on emerging city region initiatives, in 2018 we became part of a much wider collaboration called Invest Knowsley.

The Chamber and the Growth Hub have moved into new offices on the First Floor of Huyton Library, and are working with the Major Development Team to provide a “one front door” for companies to access integrated business advice and investment support.

I am delighted to confirm that Knowsley Chamber is in a strong position – both financially and organisationally.

  • Membership numbers and income has increased.
  • The prudent approach to financial management has resulted in building our reserves.
  • We have increased income for delivering services.
  • We are now working with Knowsley Enterprise Credit Union and have opened a commercial account. The Enterprise Credit Union undertakes valuable work here in Knowsley, working with companies to set up schemes so that employees can make regular savings through payroll.

We are looking to the future with confidence. Confidence is also high within our membership.  This room is populated by entrepreneurs who have worked creatively and with determination to invest and build a strong Knowsley.

The mix of very large companies and a wealth of indigenous SMEs is key to our success and gives Knowsley its character – you all have a key role in sustaining and driving the place agenda.

Knowsley is making a weighty contribution to the economy and productivity of the city region and for UK plc. I am proud to say that we are leading on many fronts and we are definitely doing many things well.   Latest figures show that:

  • Economic output in Knowsley (GVA in current basic prices) was £3.61bn in 2017. Compared with the previous year (2016), Knowsley’s economy has grown from £3.29bn, 9.9% increase compared with 3.6% across the UK, and 5% across the Liverpool City Region.
  • Since 2008, the number of companies has grown by 30%. We are now home to 4,115 local businesses. By comparison the national rate of growth is 19%.
  • Jobs in key sectors have grown. For example there are an extra 2,000 jobs in manufacturing.
  • Since 2010 jobs in Logistics have increased by 60% – that’s another 4000 jobs making it the joint fifth largest overall sector in the borough.

These record breaking levels are helping to shape a confident and buoyant Knowsley. We, at Knowsley Chamber and Growth Hub are here to support you, the people, the businesses, investors and developers so that your plans for come to life.

I am delighted to announce that just this week we have received confirmation of the extension of the Business Growth Programme, therefore if you are interested in finding out more about this funded programme please speak to a member of the team.

The economic fortunes of Knowsley has also spread to how we, as a business community, play our role in wider community well-being. The Chamber is fully supportive of the Knowsley Better Together model. A great example of this was evidenced yesterday when I visited Suites Hotel, who are working with the Supported Internships Programme to provide students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.  Many thanks Lyndsay for being so enthusiastic about the benefits for the interns and for your business, and for supporting the Armed Forces Covenant here in Knowsley.

Numerous other examples of Better Together exist …creating local supply chains (keeping the pound in Knowsley), fundraising for small local charities, mentoring, volunteering, offering work experience, going into schools to talk about the world of work and career opportunities.

As you can see we have some students from Halewood Academy here today.  The school’s vision statement is ‘We Seek the Best’, and their core values are respect, resilience, aspiration, collaboration and excellence.

Halewood has just launched a new scheme called Future Female Leaders programme. I have signed up to become a mentor.  If you wish to find out more about the programme there are a number of very able and enthusiastic students here who will be able to tell you more.

Creating career opportunities for young people is part of our DNA. Modern apprenticeships offer fantastic training and employment opportunities. Knowsley Chamber’s apprentice, Mollie Watson, started with us in March 2018.  It’s been a particularly busy year for Mollie, and apart from on the job training Mollie is undertaking a NVQ Level 2 qualification.

At this point I have invited Julie Byrne, from the Combined Authority Apprenticeship Team to provide a short update on the support available to employers……………

An important role for any Chamber is to lobby and represent on your behalf. Information you provide to us feeds into the current Economic Growth Plan, as well as several other workstreams for example:-

  • Improving public transport connectivity, especially to the Business Parks. We have held several business roundtables with Stagecoach and thank you Rob for attending the AGM today;
  • The cleanliness and general amenity offer in the areas surrounding your businesses. My thanks to Dale Milburn and his team for being so proactive to engage.
  • Issues on access to broadband and bandwidth. A challenge for us all if we are to use the commercial advantages of digital connectivity.
  • Access to supply chains for contracts in Knowsley, for example the Shakespeare North Theatre and the work of the Construction Forum. As you can see, your insights, experiences and perspectives inform our work. Please remember that our 2018 business survey is now live, and it includes a question on how you would like Knowsley to look in 2030. The information you provide will help us to deliver the business support that will make a real difference to your business. With the backdrop of Brexit only 3 months away, some early survey findings reveal:-
  • 76% of you want to grow your business in the next 12 to 18 months.
  • 50% want to take on new staff
  • 36% want to invest in machinery/equipment
  • 35 % want to branch out into new areas of business
  • 27% want to increase the size of your current business accommodation

Generating income is the lifeblood of any business, and the Chamber is no different. A continuing success story for the Chamber is our contract with Public Health for delivering the Working Well programme.

We spend a large proportion of our time in work, so our jobs and our workplaces can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing. We now have 250 Workplace Champions working with us on the programme, and we have grants of up to £500 for businesses to introduce initiatives. If you have not already signed up to Working Well then please speak with Lorna Marshall.

Our events programme has been highly successful. We have facilitated 52 workshops and seminars attracting over 1200 attendees. Some events have generated so much interest that we have had to create waiting lists. Our B2B breakfast Flash networking is highly regarded – it’s successful and friendly, and generates business. Equally, our Construction Forum has been hugely successful – we have several new elements for the Forum in Spring 2019.

The Manufacturing Network, goes from strength to strength. My thanks to Rod Wah, Chairman of Manufacturing Network. The Knowsley Business Watch meetings are well attended and our regular business alerts help to build resilience and reduce risk for businesses. My thanks to representatives of Mersey Fire & Rescue Services and Merseyside Police for being so supportive in this regard.

This year’s Knowsley Business Awards were the most successful yet with a record breaking 850 people in attendance. A big thank you to the team for working so hard to deliver the biggest business award in the city region, and in particular Irene Johnson – for her infectious enthusiasm, passion and energy.

Congratulations to award winning Chamber Members:-

  • Cybertill
  • Colloids
  • Krol Corlett Construction
  • Orbit Developments
  • Dairy Crest
  • Villages Housing Trust
  • Applied Nutrition
  • Machmade

Special mention to Danielle Flynn from JLR who picked up the Apprentice of the Year award. Danielle’s contribution to our panel discussion at our Knowsley Women in Business event was insightful, articulate and entertaining.

The Chamber has a small but strong team.   Our key strengths are experience, proven expertise, professionalism, speed, and never failing to deliver.    As you can imagine I am very privileged to work with such a dedicated team – this is very much a team effort and it is delivered by exceptional people.

Talking of exceptional. A special thank you Sheila Toft who celebrated 15 years with the Chamber in August this year.  I am extremely fortunate and lucky to be working with Sheila, who has supported me from Day One in this job.

Knowsley Chamber is in a strong place. Our current financial and operational success means that the Board of Directors can look to the future.

Key to the success of the Chamber is our reputation – relying on the strength of our relationships, a continued commitment to deliver outstanding client care, and delivering the best possible service.

I can report that the Board have agreed to create a new role within our existing structure. At the beginning of 2019, we will be recruiting a business development manager.  This is an exciting opportunity which we believe will escalate growth in the business as well as introducing new services for our members.

Knowsley offers a strong proposition for businesses ………an address in a prime location, excellent connectivity, and a professional business team on the doorstep.

Notwithstanding what lies ahead, and how choppy the waters may get, my commitment to you, all our Members, is that we will work hard to help you become more successful.

We will exploit all opportunities on your behalf, we will support the local economy, we will work collaboratively to attract major initiatives and investment, and generate a thriving climate for the private sector to grow.

In conclusion, may I thank once again the President, Lord Derby, for allowing us to hold the AGM here at Knowsley Hall, and thank you to the staff of Knowsley Hall for working with us to arrange this AGM.

It is a great privilege to serve as your Chief Executive a role that I have been undertaking since 2010, and I look forward to working with you again over the next 12 months.”

Lesley Martin-Wright                                                               

19 December 2018