I have just come back from a breakfast meeting with the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Letchworth Hall Hotel. The Herts Chamber of Commerce has a good reputation founded upon these sorts of events which give the local business community the chance to get together and network. As their guest speaker my speech mainly covered the challenge for Letchworth of achieving growth while unemployment is rising, but I also described the effect of the recession on the skills gap and the the challenges faced by the High Street.
I believe that Letchworth is well placed for business success. Despite the recession, local businesses have responded to the challenge and as a result we are slightly ahead of the rest of the country in unemployment levels. I pointed to recent redevelopments such as at Spirella, North Herts College, the Cinema, Nexus House and the Broadway as a good platform for further planned development at the Wynd and Eastcheap.
As a Garden City, Letchworth has a strong sense of civic and community spirit that has led to many Garden City firms doing business together. Speaking to local business leaders I was reassured by their strong sense of pulling together and their commitment to growing out of recession. This local network of business contacts really helps local businesses to grow and therefore helps local employment too. The Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation and North Herts Council all play their part in making the Garden City business friendly too.
Letchworth wants to remain true to its principles, without becoming a museum. Events like the business breakfast this morning show that the town has done just that. It is open to business and keen to play its part in the future. Economic development and regeneration have always been at the core of the Garden City vision and still are. Despite the recession, Letchworth has a strong business future.