With GWE Business West’s Initiative in Swindon and Wiltshire gaining momentum, Ian Larrard’s appointment as director brings an additional dimension of experience to its development.
Ian has been in Swindon and the surrounding area for over 20 years. An ex international athlete, he has chaired Swindon Harriers (the largest athletics club in the county) for many years. With a sound business background from his 32 years with HSBC, Ian was previously seconded to Great Western Enterprise (GWE) in Swindon in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, and as he settles into his new office at Emlyn Square he’s clearly delighted to be back.
“It feels like I’ve come home!” said Ian Larrard. “My first job is to meet with as many businesses as I can and find out what may be hindering their growth and success – and identify how the Initiative can help take those barriers to business away. Our role is to provide a primary voice for the business community here to identify, articulate and address the issues. We will be lobbying, and challenging where appropriate, as well as supporting Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council and Forward Swindon. The role of business and private sector partners working with the public sector is a crucial one.”
Ian is optimistic for the future of Swindon, “It’s a great place to do business and an excellent location geographically. Commercial rents are still low and there are strengths in many sectors such as research, finance and heritage. And we are seeing physical signs of economic confidence, like the imminent regeneration of the old Swindon College site, cranes on the horizon at the ex-Burmah Castrol site building a brand new community in an attractive location, and some major commercial lettings, including the iconic Spectrum building let to a growing manufacturing company.”
GWE Business West recently held a well-received meeting with the town’s two new MPs, Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson, and members of the Initiative in Swindon to exchange views and information, and plans to continue these meetings once a quarter. The meetings are part of an ongoing dialogue, to discuss issues of importance to business and to debate the value of the British Chambers of Commerce “Business Recovery Test”. As well as to hear from local MPs about issues of interest/concern to them.
“The change of Government is already proving interesting, and the new quarterly meetings between business and the Swindon MPs is a very encouraging step. We are a private company with a focus on improving competitiveness and encouraging business growth in the South West, and I’ve no reason not to feel optimistic about future growth here, as long as we all pull together and have a cohesive strategy.”