Two key consultations were held in September and December 2002, bringing together 100 businesses, support agencies and decision makers to focus on the key issues affecting Canterbury district's economy and business community. The findings from this session fed into the first draft of an economic strategy. Businesses and business support organisations at the event also offered wide support for the establishment of a district-wide economic partnership.
In December, the same representatives were invited to discuss how the partnership should look using real-life examples from around the country (for example South Wiltshire Economic Partnership, and Chichester Economic Forum). A business representative for the latter was invited to speak to local companies to promote the advantages of such a partnership. It was these two events that were the catalyst to the emergence of Canterbury4Business (C4B).
The first meeting of the Canterbury4Business economic partnership board took place in March 2003. The following June, Michael Head (Managing Director of Crown Products Ltd, Herne Bay) was elected as its Chairman.
Unique in Kent, C4B has adopted the economic strategy for the district and is one of only a few district-level economic partnerships in the UK, though enquiries about C4B are flowing in from other local authorities.
C4B comprises a partnership board with members from the private, public and voluntary sectors and also has links with the East Kent Local Strategic Partnership, the Canterbury Partnership and local chambers of commerce and business groups. The partnership has five active project groups reflecting the challenges and issues facing businesses in the district, each chaired by a member of the board.
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