They say nobody made it in business on their own.
We’re stronger together, working for a common purpose.
That’s certainly the mantra of Steve Reynolds, chair of Torbay Business Forum, who believes a combination of togetherness, purpose and momentum will take Torbay into its crucial next phase.
There’s no doubting the investment, potential and building blocks to prosperity are in place – but Steve and the rest of the Torbay Business Forum are keen to see the area’s multiple groups become a single force to seize the moment.
He believes passionately in the value of the Torbay Story in achieving this. It’s hoped the newly-published document that sets out Torbay’s shared story and its progressive plans will help drive forward the area’s development and give confidence to investors – both public and private sector.
It’s been created with care and wide consultation to include as many shared aspirations and themes as possible – without shying away from the area’s problems. Instead it faces up to them and provides a clear path to how aspirations can be raised.
It’s also hoped some of that confidence will resonate with those living and working in Torbay – a place sadly too used to talking itself down, rather than up.
“It took a long time to build the South Devon Expressway and it was something we had called for for even longer” he says.
“But now we have a decision to make – do we want it to be a route that takes people out of Torbay quickly, or gets them here quicker?”
Steve clearly believes it should be the latter and his passion for the area is etched into his every word. He quotes the Torbay Business Forum’s Torbay Story:
“Bringing businesses together both professionally and socially, to encourage active involvement strengthening the local economy.”
“Collaboration is what we’ve been trying to do at the Torbay Business Forum,” he explains. “There’s a lot of groups in Torbay and South Devon and we need to unite to talk Torbay up. There are wonderful opportunities here but now is the time to seize them.
“We very much believe that it should be businesses that led the future of Torbay, we must take responsibility for our future, that’s really important. The Fragrance Group would not be investing millions in new hotels here if there was not a good opportunity for them. They believe in Torbay, so must we.”
The Fragrance Group’s investment – a global chain with plans for several hotels – is often mentioned as the tangible evidence that seed investment is starting to bear fruit.
Millions have been invested by Government, with the promise of more to come, and the Torbay Business Forum has a clear focus on looking after the investors who want to come here, while explaining to business what opportunities that will bring – and how to connect with them.
“We need to assure investors that there will be support for them when they get here and there will be a strong economic base and environment for them to work from and to welcome them into our community. We need to show them confidence – and the publication of the Torbay Story is vital to that.”
Practical steps are being taken to achieve this. Three town boards have been set up in Torbay, Paignton and Brixham to ensure voices are heard in a cohesive way, avoiding the disjointed approach of the past.
These voices will almost certainly put pressure on decision makers to do the one thing businesses in the area crave – to make decisions in good time so that progress on the area’s many developments can finally take shape.