Kent Business Summit tackles Brexit and local economy

On Friday 11 January, over 300 CEOs, academics, and delegates from across the South East gathered at the University of Kent’s Sibson Building to attend the annual Kent Business Summit.

People arrived with a range of expectations – from networking to agreeing on actionable points that would help policy makers identify where the interests of business leaders and workers lie.

The attendance for this year’s conference was higher than previous years.

There were seven talks in the morning, each lead by different industry professionals. The main theme of the day centred around innovation, tourism and transport, and each of these touched on other points of interest – such as how businesses will be affected by Brexit on March 29, protecting smaller businesses and last year’s encouragement of local employment.

Vice-Chancellor Karen Cox said in her opening speech that “Brexit is something that we will have to deal with,” including the University of Kent which has campuses across mainland Europe; such as Paris and Brussels.

With 90% of businesses in Kent being micro-enterprises, they have been found to be the least capable of dealing with the expected blow to finances post-March 29.

Businesses of all levels are preparing as best as possible to plan for Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU). Those in attendance agreed that they hope Westminster will be able to reach an agreement on the terms of divorce.

Helen Walbey said during the day’s proceedings that “small businesses are the heart of British business”.

Martin Meyer, head of the Kent Business School (KBS) told InQuire: “Kent is the place to be, to live, to do business, to study”.

Aside from Brexit, the issue of housing was mentioned. According to Andream Markides, MD of Markides Associates, the county will have to build 2,000 new homes over the next decade, due to population growth. He insisted: “we should not be building housing estates, we should be building communities.”