THURROCK businesses were given a boost when a Government minister officially opened a new branch of Essex Chambers of Commerce.
The new office, in the Thurrock Learning Campus, High Street, Grays, was visited by Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis MP.
Declaring the new facility open for business, Mr Lewis said: "Businesses are at the heart of the Government’s vision for the Thames Gateway which is why are doing everything we can to give them greater freedoms, powers and incentives to strengthen the local economy, drive regeneration and encourage prosperity.”
He added: "The Essex Chambers of Commerce has played a vital role in supporting local businesses, providing a prominent voice for well over a century.
“Setting up shop here in Thurrock, the economic pulse of the Gateway represents a huge opportunity for jobs and growth in Thurrock and beyond."
Following the ceremony, Mr Lewis met a number of local business people and discussed the challenges facing them and the community in the current economic climate.
Businesses were supportive of the chambers’ move into Thurrock.
Charles Meaby, is the commercial director of Stanford-le-Hope’s billion-pound superport - DP World London Gateway. This week also saw the port welcome Prime Minister David Cameron as high street retailer Marks and Spencer announced it would base a distribution centre on site - creating 700 jobs.
Mr Meaby said: “Essex Chambers of Commerce are the leading provider of international trade support in the county so their move into Thurrock will complement our commitment to be the port of choice for UK importers and exporters. We look forward to working closely with them.”
Perry Glading, chief operation officer for Forth Ports Ltd which owns the Port of Tilbury, agreed.
He said: “With businesses facing ever more complex legislation it is important for them to be able to turn to a group like Essex Chambers for support and advice. Having a local presence will make that even easier and we very much welcome them increasing their visibility in Thurrock.”
Robert Leng, president of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said the organisation was looking forward to a bright future for Thurrock.
He said: “We are delighted that the minister could come and officially open our new office in Thurrock.
“It is a measure of the success that Essex Chamber of Commerce is having in looking after the interests of businesses. We are particularly keen to increase representation down here.
“There is an awful lot going on in Thurrock which people don’t know about. Hopefully we can raise the profile of the area.”
Mr Leng explained they wanted to help increase exports from British companies.
He added: “The record for Essex in exporting is one of the best and we can help our members export even more.”
Essex Chambers’ chief executive, Denise Rossiter, explained why it is so important for the group to move to the borough.
She said: “Thurrock is on the doorstep of DP World’s London Gateway Port development and the £150 million investment in Junction 30 of the M25 Dartford Crossing. This part of South Essex is growing fast and offering so many fantastic, new opportunities for businesses of all sizes. Essex Chamber of Commerce is all about opening valuable doors for businesses and so we want to be on the spot, helping companies both small and large to maximise these opportunities.
“It is a hugely growing area.”
Essex Chambers of Commerce has a membership of more than 1,200 businesses which employ 150,000 people. It already has offices in Colchester and Southend.
To find out more about the organisation, or to join, go to www.essexchambers.co.uk/joinhere or call Deborah Ellis on 01206 765277.