In the 19th century, Burton was hailed as “the brewing capital of the world”; that was a massive title for our small town to hold.
It was achieved by a rare combination of factors, including the now legendary Burton water that helped to create the outstanding beers that the Staffordshire town was renowned for both at home and abroad.
Probably few will know that brewers came north, from London, to establish their own breweries in Burton in order to innovate and capitalise on the available resources.
More recently that proud history has resurfaced and has taken a new turn. From the town’s diverse industrial roots, new businesses and expertise have emerged. It is highly satisfying to record the exceptional innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that is driving growth across advanced manufacturing, and, perhaps more surprisingly, across digital, technology and service sectors.
The finalist and winners in the Burton Mail Business Awards closely reflected the growing confidence and high-tech skills in IT, value-added product development and enhancements to customer service using Social Media. These Awards continue to provide instant evidence of the expanding, diverse and resilient economic base in East Staffordshire.
We are witnessing a critical rebirth of the town and its surrounding districts. Where there was once low skilled manufacturing as the dominant force that fuelled the Industrial Revolution, there is now dynamic transformation in the 21st century with Burton taking a key-role.
This change is reflected in the growing numbers of small enterprises, with the Midlands now home to some 345,000 small businesses and more start-ups being launched in the region than even London. Interestingly, Manchester was in second place.
There is also growing confidence being expressed across these smaller entrepreneurial companies with figures from Barclays showing that that one in four companies in the Midlands are now considered high-growth. These companies are reporting increases in turnover of more than 33% over the preceding three years.
At the Chamber, our Growth Hub and Growth Funding has contributed to building the numbers of expanding local businesses. This availability of financial resources and commercial support has assisted these SMEs in their critical initial years of operation.
Membership of your Chamber continues to grow; and this in itself also reflects the growing confidence in Burton and East Staffordshire.
The re-opening of the town’s Victorian Market Hall after its £1.7million refurbishment provides yet another significant example of community investment to expand business in Burton. With the majority of the stall holders joining your Chamber, we are delighted to be representing the interests of an expanding and wider cross-section of local businesses.
Again, the Burton Mail Business Awards 2015 were an excellent barometer of what is good and great about the commerce and industry of the town. The award categories themselves show how Burton has developed into a diverse and successful economic centre. Entrants for these Burton awards may like to consider entering the Birmingham Chamber Group Awards which opens for entries early next year. Burton Chamber members have been highly successful winning back-to-back awards in the last three years and in the process set a first amongst the Chamber Group.
I often remind members, in case they may have forgotten, that Burton attracted the Football Association’s National Football Centre to be established at St George’s Park; and that their facilities are used by other sports outside of the ‘national game’, by leading international and national Rugby Football teams and clubs, for example.
Burton continues to punch above its weight and maintains the resources that create a strong pull for new businesses to set up their operations.
The service sector remains of significant importance shown by the creation of the new 64-acre Burton Gateway commercial business park strategically located at the entrance to the town. It is one of the key employment sites in East Staffordshire; with the larger 175 acre mixed-use scheme, of which the business park is one part, including a residential development of some 660 new homes and open landscaped parkland.
At the Chamber, our team are always keen to hear from members about their latest business developments and information that you would like to publicise to wider audiences. Our weekly emailer is available to promote your business and details can be sent to Chris Plant, [email protected]
At this Festive Season, I would like to wish the business community of Burton, East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire a Happy Christmas and a successful and prosperous 2016.
I welcome feedback and comment on this column and the work and activities of the Chamber. You can contact me at [email protected]
President of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce
Managing Director, Yee Group Limited