What great news for business that Stroud has been voted the best place to live in Britain by the Sunday Times.
James Monk, one of my Business West colleagues who is commercial director and lives in the area, seemed to hit the nail on the head when he told me:
“Valleys teaming with enterprise, companies not just serving the local needs and possibly delivering them by bicycle but creating innovative productions and solutions and exporting them to the world.”
“What’s not to like?”
James is right.
There are just over 4,000 companies based in Stroud and the Five Valleys - and apart from the large firms like Renishaw and Ecotricity, most are SMEs.
I seem to remember a statistic some time ago saying there were more potters here than in any other part of the country.
Led by Dale Vince predominantly, I think that Stroud could well soon become the greenest town in Britain.
And last week in my column for local newspapers I praised the council’s strategy to become carbon neutral by 2030.
But following this award, I believe the district must up its game on the support it gives to local business.
Despite assurances, I have not seen any sign of a coherent plan yet to support and attract business to the area.
It appears there are real commercial planning issues that businesses face in Stroud and they must solve this to prevent firms moving out of the area.
This award, and the resultant publicity from it, will doubtless encourage more people to set up their own companies here in the shadow of coronavirus.
I know that many people who used to travel to London for business from the area are now working from home and some of those will be keen to set up on their own.
They must have more support commercially.
I take nothing away from the Sunday Times award. But business is the future lifeblood of any area and Stroud is now being given a starter for ten to up its support. It must take it.