THE importance of small businesses to the economy was stressed at the opening of Bury St Edmunds Business Festival.
East of England Enterprise Hub chairman Harry Berry officially opened the Suffolk enterprise agency Menta’s Trade Fair at Ickworth House on Tuesday, the first event of the festival, stressing the importance of such business-to-business gatherings in helkping small businesses grow.
Mr Berry, a managining partner of Ipswich-based New Venture Partners, said: “It’s absolutely key not just for this region but for the Government to start talking about small businesses because that’s how we’re going to get ourselves out of trouble.”
He said it was growth among small businesses that would get things moving and added: “These events are critical for that.”
The enterprise hub educates and encourages new entrepreneurs and Mr Berry said it was expanding across across the region which is why it was involved in talks to set up a Bury hub.
The fourth annual Menta Trade Fair attracted huge interest this year and the agency’s chief executive Alex Till said next year they might look at taking more floorspace. “We’ve got 60 companies in here and there was another 40 on the waiting list,” he said. “It’s nice in the current climate to get this amount of energy and enthusiasm.”
Businesses taking stands at the fair sponsored by Bury solicitors Atkins Thomson ranged from jewellers to health and safety consultants and photographers to engineers. Many were on their third or fourth Menta Trade Fair.
One of those was Kate Everett, from the public relations firm Write Impressions, who said: “It’s a really good opportunity to meet lots of different businesses and business owners from around the county. It’s always busy from the moment they open the doors.
Simon Gray, from Denny Brothers commercial sales department, their third time at the fair, said: “It’s always a successful one. Because of the timing [3pm to 7pm] a lot of people come after work. It’s also an easier time for us, the last three hours of a working day.”
St Emundsbury Borough Council Leader John Griffiths told exhibitors:
“This is the opening event of the first Business Festival in Bury St Edmunds and the first in East Anglia.”
The 10-day festival included the first conference of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, held at The Apex yesterday. The venue hosts another first on Tuesday when it becomes the venue for the fourth Exhibition of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering at which 600 people are expected between 8.30am and 4.30pm.
While that is on, the Government’s StartUp Britain Summer bus will make its only East Anglian visit on its 15-venue tour, stopping in CHarter Square, outside The Apex, between 2pm and 5pm.
The Bury Free Press Business Show will move into The Athenaeum on Thursday from 3pm to 7pm. As well as a chance to meet a wide range of business exihibtors, there will be sessions on US Air Force procurement, London 2012 opportunities and ‘speed networking’.
Throughout the 10 days, West Suffolk College is organising a series of business skills workshops and today held an employer breakfast so local business people could meet job seeking students.