Agenda item

Invest in Bath Update

An update report on ‘Invest in Bath’ is attached. There will also be a short presentation at the meeting.


Rob Dawson, Enterprise Officer, introduced the report and gave a short presentation which covered the following:


·  Invest in Bath Service

·  Service Outline – Business & Skills team

·  Covid Support

·  Business Support

·  Sites and Premises

·  Employment and Skills

·  Communications and Networks

·  Invest in Bath website walk-through


Panel members raised the following issues and asked the following questions:


Councillor Myers explained that the reason for this item was to explore why only ‘Bath’ is in the title and not ‘North East Somerset’.


Councillor MacFie stated that he could only find one business from North East Somerset and that he is often asked by residents why there is not an ‘Invest in North East Somerset’ website. The officer explained that this is something that could be taken on but the website is for North East Somerset, not just Bath. He explained that there is a new business engagement programme. He explained that the team are looking to refresh the website but a name change would have to be consulted on with Councillors and users. He further explained that 50% of website users come from outside of the UK and that Bath is a globally recognised name.


Councillor MacFie referred to the Enterprise Zone in the Somer Valley and stated that residents do not always feel that there is much encouragement and investment in this and would like to see more investment in North East Somerset.


Councillor Warrington added that there are lots of quality businesses in North East Somerset and some incredible heritage. She explained that people are increasingly aware of where their food comes from which benefits local businesses. She asked if the Chamber of Commerce could promote and invest in North East Somerset businesses. The officer stated that he had engaged with many businesses in North East Somerset and that the points raised are valid. He explained that there are dedicated engagement officers and added that they do engage with Chamber of Commerce (there had been a recent meeting with Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce).


Councillor Hodge asked the following questions (officer response shown in italics):


·  How do ‘Invest in Bristol and Bath’ work with ‘Invest in Bath’ and is there any overlap? The officer explained that the former focuses on more global campaigns and on leads from central Government. There are monthly meetings with their team. Both teams work with business aftercare – 90% of work is with existing businesses.

·  Are the 9 core funded posts full time? And are the 6 Future Bright posts externally funded? The officer estimated that there are 6 full time equivalent employees. He confirmed that the Future Bright posts are funded by WECA.

·  When there is time to analyse the data, it would be useful to see the breakdown of the distribution of Covid grants (this had been added to the Panel future items list).


Councillor Duguid asked the following questions (officer response shown in italics):


·  What is administered by WECA? The officer explained that most budgets are administered by WECA, we are involved in shaping the funds and process. We also have a promotional focus.

·  Is there any involvement with the adult education budget? The officer explained that his manager would lead with any involvement in this.


Councillor Hughes asked what the primary focus was – inward investment or local business support. Also, there is no mention of Brexit which has had an effect on businesses. The officer explained that the main (90%) focus is on supporting local businesses. Brexit support activity was happening but the Covid situation took over. We will look at this again in the future.


Councillor Myers explained that he had raised this issue in 2015 but a name change to ‘Invest in Bath and North East Somerset’ was resisted. The officer explained that any name change would have to be considered and tested with the user base. Councillor MacFie stated that he would like a separate ‘Invest in North East Somerset’.


It was RESOLVED that officers be requested to carry out some research (including with users) and to report back to the Panel in 2-3 months with a proposal, taking into account the suggestions put forward regarding a separate ‘Invest in North East Somerset’ (possibly cross referenced with ‘Invest in Bath’).

Supporting documents: