The Business Forum returns for its first 'real' meeting since pandemic

Group of businessmen at breakfast

Forum members and guests including chairman Steve Reynolds, council leader Steve Darling and councillor Swithin Long - Credit: Jim Parker

The Torbay Business Forum is back in business!

The forum this week staged its first face-to-face (socially distanced) business breakfast since the pandemic.

Lockdowns and meeting restrictions have meant all the forum meetings being held over zoom in the past 19 months.

The forum has managed to keep in touch and engage with its members during Covid with regularly and specially-arranged Breakfast Bytes events which have included a range of guest speakers and panellists.

But it was back to the real thing - and egg and bacon - at Torquay's Grand Hotel on Tuesday.

Chairman Steve Reynolds let out a 'Welcome Torbay' cry as old and new members took to their seats.

Business leader giving speech

Steve Reynolds - Credit: Jim Parker

Steve opened the meeting with a quick breakdown of the West Country and local economy as we, hopefully, ease out of the pandemic.

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Guest speaker Torbay Council leader Steve Darling talked of the Bay's potential for a brighter future with regeneration schemes and investment from the public and private sectors running into millions of pounds. He also revealed the council's plan to achieve Child Friendly status.

Torbay Weekly editor and Torbay Together strategic partnership chairman Jim Parker echoed Cllr Darling's sentiments and revealed a new campaign to celebrate and encapsulate all those success stories was being planned. He also thanked Cllr Darling and his partnership for investing in Thinking Place, a team talking a special look at Torbay to make sure we all  make the most of our Naturally Inspiring Bay in the future.

Chairman Mr Reynolds said: "After 19 months of absence, it was great to be back on platform with the Torbay Business Forum and looking at the way ahead for our naturally inspiring Torbay."

He aid the theme for October was very much “Now is the time 2”.

Steve said the TBF had not met formally face to face and indoors since March 2020, so this week marked a major step forwards.

"The event was always going to be a tentative return to 'business as usual', but when nearly 50 people arrived to network at the Grand Hotel Torquay and to hear about the latest Torbay Business news, it was soon evident that we are slowly getting ourselves back on track," he said.

The Forum brings businesses together, both professionally and socially, to encourage active involvement in strengthening the local economy.

Tuesday's 'Breakfast Notes' included a review of the underlying economic issues, highlighted in the Bank of England Agents’ summary of business conditions, including strong growth in demand putting strains on the supply chain and resources; and, perhaps the most concerning aspect, the current shortage of staff which is affecting so many of our businesses and establishments.

Steve added: "Despite the challenging economic backdrop, the message was quite simple and highly positive, Torbay is now at the threshold of an amazing period of investment and growth opportunities. Now is the time to capitalise on those opportunities and for us to really make our mark."

The next TBF event, on November 2 and will feature one of those opportunities, being the major development planned for Torbay Hospital by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

You can follow TBF events via its website www.torbaybusinessfroum.com.”