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#CWDigiConf20: Coventry & Warwickshire in best position to bounce back from effects of COVID-19

If anyone can, Coventry and Warwickshire can – that was the message during a Recovery and Resilience panel during the Chamber’s online Annual Economic Conference.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber Chief Executive Louise Bennett hosted the session which included Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust; Leigh Hunt, CityFibre’s City Manager Coventry; Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, and Monica Fogarty, Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Council.

#CWDigiConf20: Coventry & Warwickshire in best position to bounce back from effects of COVID-19

The panel explored where Coventry and Warwickshire had been economically prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and what the region could do to bounce back quickly.

Martin Reeves said: “The timing of recovery will vary from sector to sector but we’ve got to find a way of supporting businesses to invest. Our response to this now will determine whether we can recover quicker.

“It will also determine our economic future. Nobody is denying that it is going to be a tough road ahead, but if anyone can, Coventry and Warwickshire can.”

Monica Fogarty said the region-wide response during the pandemic would stand Coventry and Warwickshire in good stead during the recovery period.

She said: “Once again, Coventry and Warwickshire has come together and there is no doubt that our partnership has made our response to Covid-19 stronger.

“We know that this region was one of the fastest growing economies prior to the pandemic and it could, ultimately, have a transformational effect on the way we move forward – when it comes to transport, low carbon, skills and productivity.”

Martin Sutherland said that the region was fortunate to have the UK City of Culture title as a catalyst for economic recovery.

He said: “We are the only city to hold this title during this period and it could have a galvanising effect on our economy and on our communities.

“We are determined to use City of Culture to improve people’s lives but that is an aim that pre-dates Covid-19 and pre-dates the levelling up agenda. We want businesses to make the most of 2021 and our door is open to help them do that.”

Leigh Hunt said: “The last few months have taught us just how important digital connectivity is to all of us – especially as businesses have been told to work from home and we’ve tried to stay in touch with one another.

“So, it is going to be more important than ever, with even more demands being placed upon our digital infrastructure, that we have excellent connectivity to support both the resilience of businesses and the economic recovery.”

Hannah Essex, Co-executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce, also hosted an Economic Panel event with Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG; Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of the Centre for Cities; Steve Harcourt, of Prime Accountants Group; and Paula Deas, Deputy CEO of the CWLEP.

The Conference, sponsored by CityFibre, Kumari Hart, WCG and Prime Accountants Group, also heard from the Rt. Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng MP, the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS); West Midlands Mayor Andy Street; and Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon.

The event, which was broadcast by Istead AV from its Spotlight Streaming Studio, was closed by Chamber President David Penn.

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