VIDEO: Positive outlook for the Forest of Dean
By Mark Owen and David Wood | 14th September 2023
There was lots of positive news to share when the Forest Economic Partnership held its quarterly meeting last night.
Around 40 people attended the event at the Speech House, near Coleford, including Punchline-Gloucester.com editor Mark Owen who was invited along.
The meeting was chaired by Ian Mean in the absence of FEP chair Neill Ricketts. Ian welcomed new two stakeholders - Nick Shrager, who has just bought Lydney Pallets and Cases, and Deborah Flint of sausage roll producers Cinderhill Farm, who spoke about recently appearing on the Channel 4 programme 'A Cotswold Farmshop'.
There was a presentation by Matthew Williams and Jason Lamb from BAM, the company who have been awarded the contract for the Five Acres leisure and community centre at Berry Hill in Coleford. BAM is on the look-out for subcontractors and is holding a 'Meet the Buyer' event later in the autumn.
Ian Mean also mentioned DEEP's £100m plans to turn the former National Diving and Activity Centre in Tidenham into an underwater research and development facility. Ian, who has visited the site himself, described it as a fantastic investment for the Forest and a great opportunity.
Louise John and Anthony Parsons spoke about the new Rural Business Grants which potentially offer businesses grants of between £3,000 and £25,000 with just 20% match funding required.
Clare Vertigen then gave an update from the Education and Skills sub group and spoke passionately about the Inspiring the Forest event which happened earlier this year. She said they were talking to schools about what they would like before the next event.
Angela Presdee mentioned the winding up of Fastershire broadband initiative in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire after 12 years.
During the meeting Ian Mean thanked Punchline for its continued support and commitment to the Forest of Dean.
After the meeting, Wendy Jackson, director of the FEP, who works for Forest of Dean District Council, said they always look to open the doors to anybody who is interested in a thriving economy in the Forest of Dean.
"We've got a real range of companies," she said. "We've got research and development, manufacturing and engineering and tourism. It's multi-sector but we always open the doors and welcome everybody to come along. Our next event is at the Speech House in December."
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