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Home / News & Opportunities / Blog / April 2016 / MIKE ASHTON – THE MONTH IN FOCUS

Date: 07/04/2016

To begin this blog, I hope that you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend over Easter. It is nice to see the beginning of some longer, lighter and warmer days. I spent the holiday weekend walking, cycling and playing golf and I look forward to much more of that in the coming summer months.

The improved weather provides numerous more opportunities to get outside and enjoy some of Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s countryside, gardens and attractions. 2016 is the Year of the English Garden, celebrating 300 years since the birth of “Capability” Brown, making it the ideal opportunity to discover some of the finest gardens in the two counties.  The Visit Worcestershire Official County Guide has now been published, which is full of ideas on how to spend your weekends and holidays. Summer, of course, would not be complete without sport, and I am looking forward to welcoming the beginnings of the cricket and the race season in Worcester. There is also much to look forward to in the world of sport in Hereford, with the reopening of the racecourse and the fantastic news that Hereford FC will be going to Wembley in May. The Chamber’s Directors will be participating in St Richards Hospice’s Worcestershire Way Walk in June and this season provides a good opportunity to start training for the 31 mile challenge.

The Chamber recently completed the Quarterly Economic Survey and I am delighted that we received 555 responses from businesses in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, placing us in third position amongst the 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce. Collectively, the Chambers received 8500 responses, the highest amount to date. The QES provides a snapshot of economic conditions and gives businesses the opportunity to have their voices heard. The full results will shortly be published and businesses are invited to our quarterly breakfast event for a full breakdown.

International Trade is a priority for the Chamber: statistics show that every £1 funded by UK Trade & Investment equals a huge £148.54 of economic benefit for the region*. From Monday 18 – Friday 22 April, UKTI are holding their biannual Exporting is GREAT week and there are numerous events taking place in the West Midlands, including “The Digital Guide to Internationalise” held at the Chamber office in Worcester and in Skylon Park, Hereford and “Selling Food and Drink to the UAE” in Hereford. At least two Chamber members are participating in the Midlands Engine Trade mission to the USA and Canada the same week, led by Bromsgrove MP and Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid.

There is now only one week until entries close for the Chamber Business Awards 2016. Businesses can enter eleven categories, from Best Use of Technology to Most Promising New Business. The Awards ceremony, held on Thursday 9 June at Worcester Arena, is one of the highlights of the business calendar and promises an evening of celebration, networking and entertainment. We will be raising money for four local charities on the night and Colin Jackson, Olympic Silver Medallist, will also be speaking.

I hope you continue to make the most of the opportunities in the two counties,

*UKTI Herefordshire & Worcestershire Regional Performance statistics from April 2015 – December 2015

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Mike Ashton

Chief Executive

Mike began his career in his native North-West, where he was Head of Enterprise at Liverpool John Moores University from 1994-2001. The extensive business engagement experience he gained in that role was enough to earn him the Chief Executive’s position at Greater Manchester BusinessLink (Chamberlink), a company that offered business support across the 10 council authorities that form the Greater Manchester umbrella. In May 2007 Mike was appointed Chief Executive of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. 

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