By Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber CEO

Do you do business with other local companies? If you do, that’s fantastic to hear, and great news for the local economy.

If you don’t, though, is it something you think you might want to try to put right?

So often we hear stories of thriving businesses in our county buying in supplies from Land’s End to John O’Groats, or indeed importing from overseas.

In many cases, they have absolutely no idea there is a Shropshire-based alternative, able to offer the exact same product or service, based just round the corner.

Last week we held another of our popular ‘Meet The Neighbours’ events, this time focusing on the Stafford Park industrial estate.

It was an informal opportunity for people to expand their contacts by meeting and finding out more about some of the companies based right on the doorstep.

And it’s amazing how little we sometimes know about the amazing local hidden gems which are making waves all over the world.

There were plenty of conversations at our Stafford Park event starting with the phrase: “Well, I never knew that…”. There always are!

Here at Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, a key part of our role is to be the voice of the county, lobbying on behalf of our members, patrons and stakeholders.

Keeping the ‘Shropshire pound’ in the county, and facilitating a network where local businesses support each other, is an important part of this.

Another is to help provide businesses with the tools they need to thrive.

The second stage of our Local Skills Improvement Plan project is now up and running. It’s designed to gain a better understanding of skills and training requirements.

It’s targeting specific sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, food production, professional services, construction, environmental technologies, and health & social care, and we want to include the views of as many businesses as possible.

At a time when training budgets are being cut, or stretched to do so much more than ever, sharing your needs with us helps decision-makers to know what is going to be needed, so funding can be made available. Help us to help you – that would be my message.

We’re also keen to ensure people are maximising the value of their membership, and are holding a series of virtual sessions to help.