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									GWE Business West

In March 2008, as the country headed towards recession, Business West merged
with Swindon based Great Western Enterprise Ltd (GWE). But far from it being a
case of bad timing, it turned out to be the perfect moment to establish the new
company as a highly influential membership and economic development

Since then there has been progress in every element of GWE Business West‟s
activity. Whether by extending our range of business support services, or using our
influential partnership links with the public and private sectors, to ensure the „voice of
business‟ is heard in important economic debates.

Managing Director, Phil Smith said, “The GWE Business West Group now employs
around 300 people and has a turnover of £22 million. Profit generated from our
commercial services pays for our Initiative activity, which aims to make this region
one of the best places to live and work, by enabling the local business community to
play a part in influencing the way our area is shaped, managed and developed.”

Chambers of Commerce
Despite the economic climate, GWE Business West has managed to retain a high
level of membership to its Chambers of Commerce network, which includes Bristol,
Bath, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire Chambers of Commerce.

Nigel Hutchings, Chambers of Commerce General Manager, said. “In challenging
times, a cost which is not attributable to the core work of a business may be seen as
dispensable. However, we‟re finding that both potential and existing members are
realising that membership of their local Chamber is key in discovering new markets
and accessing relevant advice to continue profitable trading.”

Networking through the Chambers of Commerce, which organises over 70 events
and seminars each year across the region, has recently soared in popularity as it
offers an alternative and cost-effective approach to traditional marketing – as well as
an opportunity to take part in one of the region‟s most active business communities.

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And those members who are too busy to attend events are taking advantage of a
range of online services that help them to network online, access vital business
information and promote their business – all for free.

The Initiative
Alongside providing a range of tangible services to business, GWE Business
West operates a business leadership team known as The Initiative. This provides a
strategic channel for the private sector to play a major role in the way our area is
shaped, managed and developed. It provides an effective link between the private
and public sector to ensure that the interests of commerce are taken into account.

Over the past 20 years, starting in Bristol then Bath and spreading across
the West of England, the business community, through the work of The
Initiative, has been a major driving force behind that region transforming itself
into the economic success it is today. With over 35 key projects and activities
over the past two decades, The Initiative has an impressive track record of

Most recently GWE Business West has taken the opportunity to translate the
strategic business leadership approach, which has proved so successful for Bristol
and Bath, and establish such an approach for Swindon. As a result a new „Initiative in
Swindon‟ has been formed.

Business Link
GWE Business West owns 66% of Northern Arc, the company that runs the Business
Link service in Gloucestershire, West of England, Swindon and Wiltshire. In addition
to this, GWE Business West provides a comprehensive range of services that help
local businesses to grow and adapt.

Enterprise Services
GWE Business West, through our Enterprise Services division, delivers a range of
public and privately funded business support programmes. We manage a Service
Level Agreement (SLA) with Bath & North East Somerset Council to deliver business
support through a range of activities including specialist advice clinics provided by
business experts on a one-to-one basis. These include Legal, Accountancy,
Intellectual Property Rights and Health & Safety.

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As part of the SLA we run a programme providing business support for the Creative
Industries in and around Bath. An industry led organisation called Creative Bath has
been set up to raise the profile and help the growth of the creative sector in Bath and
the surrounding areas. The Creative Bath website is an invaluable hub for locally
based businesses and individuals in the creative industry, visit

We have won two new contracts this year to provide help and support to companies
through the recession – Adapt to Survive and an addition to our current Business
Start Up programme with Business Link, aimed at the unemployed.

Adapt to Survive is a new business support and improvement programme which
offers free workshops, free mentoring and vouchers up to £250 to help cover the
costs of implementing an action plan specific to the needs of each business.

The Business Start Up programme will involve working with Business Link, the
Department for Work and Pensions and Job Centre Plus to provide comprehensive
business start up courses to the unemployed; providing advice on how to start a
business and how to make it a success.

Initially delegates attend a business awareness session followed by free one-to-one
support provided by a business advisor who will help delegates put together a
business plan. A three day business start up course will follow with further one-to-
one support which will enable the business plan to be put into action.

One of the most basic needs for a business is suitable accommodation, and through
our Workspace division, GWE Business West provides easy-in/ out serviced
office space at business centres in Bristol, Swindon and Midsomer Norton (near
Bath). Other facilities include meeting room hire, video conferencing and virtual office
services. GWE Business West Workspace also owns and manages business centres
located in Faringdon (Oxfordshire), Slough (Berkshire) and Shoreham-by-Sea (West

Training and Development
Research has proven that the knowledge and skills of the people in a company

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heavily influences business success. GWE Business West Training and
Development meets the needs of individuals, teams and organisations through a
spectrum of development options. From training courses, management programmes,
coaching and mentoring to bespoke solutions and activity based learning.

International Trade
Under our International Trade area, GWE Business West delivers contracts for UK
Trade and Investment (South West), the government‟s international business
development organisation and the Enterprise Europe Network, a local gateway to a
wealth of information on doing business in Europe. GWE Business West‟s export
documentation service is one of the most successful in the UK and has helped
thousands of companies to export and get paid for all manner of goods. Some of the
more bizarre exports have been exporting sand and date palms to the Arab states.

GWE Business West Research helps organisations to make important decisions on
economic development and regeneration matters, by providing economic
development research and evidence based analysis including; Strategic Economic
Assessments, Economic Impact Analysis, Sector Analysis, Project an Programme
Evaluation, Economic Forecasting.

The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction (LDEC) Bill makes
provision for a new local authority economic assessment duty. This requires all
county councils and unitary district councils to prepare an annual assessment of the
economic conditions of their area (from April 2010). GWE Business is looking
forward to supporting local authorities in the production of their economic
assessments. Our approach combines direct delivery, but also internal capacity
building to enable „in-house‟ professional assessment, revision and enhancement in
the future.

West of England, Gloucester, Swindon Triangle

A number of key regional documents (the Spatial Plan, the Economic Strategy)
identify the West of England, Gloucester and Swindon as the economic hub of the
South West region. This area, described as the North East Triangle, is set to grow
substantially over the next 20 years, with around 250,000 new homes planned and

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220,000 new jobs created, accounting for over 40% of the growth of the South West

Phil Smith, Managing Director said, “Going forward GWE Business West will place
great emphasis on realising the economic potential of the area which is seen as
crucial to the success of the regional and national economy. Our priorities will
include engaging in regeneration planning in the South West and operating to an
environmentally sustainable model”.

For more information on how GWE Business West can help your business visit or follow us on

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