New Anglia LEP Chair, Doug Field, was the guest of honour at a high profile business dinner in Devon to promote closer trading links between East Anglia and the South West.
The event was organised by Exeter Airport and Norwich Airport in partnership with the South West Business Council, and focused on the food and drink sector. More than 30 regional business leaders attended the dinner, which was hosted by the Earl and Countess of Devon at Powderham Castle near Exeter.
It follows a highly successful trade mission from the South West to Norwich in July of last year when 24 delegates from Exeter Airport’s Connects business ambassador network met with their counterparts from Norwich Airport’s Connects network to discuss regional trade opportunities.
The two regions have been working closer together following the launch of direct flights from Norwich to Exeter in 2016, with passenger numbers currently up 15% year-on-year on the route.
A return trade mission from Norwich to the South West is planned for March next year, in partnership with the LEP.
Richard Pace, Managing Director of Norwich Airport, said: “East Anglia and the South West have much in common, including a strong food and drink sector, and there are huge opportunities for collaboration. Airports provide the regional connectivity we need to catalyse those opportunities into significant economic benefit, and we look forward joining next year’s trade mission to the South West.”
Doug Field, Chair of New Anglia LEP and Joint Chief Executive of the East of England Co-op, said: “This visit to the South West has been really inspiring because there are so many areas where we can collaborate. Our regions face similar challenges, but also share great strengths. It’s all about connecting regions and working together for mutual economic benefit.”
Tim Jones, Chairman of the South West Business Council, added: “We were delighted to host Doug and showcase some of the South West’s top food and drink producers. We also explored other sector opportunities ranging from agri-tech and bio-sciences to nuclear engineering, all of which will form part of East Anglia’s trade mission to the South West next year.”
Norwich Airport and Exeter Airport are part of Regional and City Airports, the airport management division of Rigby Group plc. The airports’ Connects initiative works with regional business ambassadors to enhance air connectivity to drive economic growth.