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Working together will be vital

Dave Courteen knows all too well the terrible impact Covid-19 has had on Shropshire’s business community.

Dave, the new chair of the Marches Growth Hub, has seen his own health and fitness clubs forced to lock their doors and shut up shop during the series of lockdowns and restrictions of the last 12 months.

Both the Shrewsbury Club and Holmer Park Health Club and Spa near Hereford have had their income reduced to zero as the pandemic has brought the hospitality and leisure industry to a standstill.

But despite this, Dave believes there are plenty of grounds for optimism in the months ahead – and says the Marches Growth Hub has a major role to play in ensuring that businesses can bridge the gap between the current crisis and the better days on the horizon.

“I can empathise with any business which has suffered at the hands of this dreadful virus because my own clubs have had to close and we have had zero income,” said Dave, the founder and managing director of Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs.

“There is much work to do to promote our visitor economy and help the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors which have been so hard hit by this pandemic, but I really do believe that there are real reasons for us to be optimistic about the economy in the Marches as we start to emerge from this crisis.

“The pandemic has made all of us reflect on our lifestyles and I think there will be a growing desire for people to work from home where they can, avoid the daily commute and live in areas of outstanding natural beauty such as Shropshire.

“I am not sure many people will want to jump on planes and head off overseas in the next 12 to 24 months, and the region is perfectly placed to benefit from a big rise in staycations and all the opportunities that those extra visitors bring for a whole range of businesses.”

Dave says the Marches Growth Hub will play a crucial part in helping businesses make the most of the new opportunities when they arise and must work alongside other business organisations to help drive growth.

The hub - which has bases in Hereford, Shrewsbury and Telford and an online service at www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk – is the region’s one-stop centre for business advice and support and is the gateway to millions of pounds of funding for the business community.

“It is vital that businesses are aware of all the services that they can access through the growth hub, and the tremendous amount of good work which the team are already doing. But we also need to make sure we are working with our partners in the chambers of commerce, the FSB and other business organisations to ensure that we promote the brilliant work that they do too.

“There are undoubtedly good times around the corner but there are so many businesses running on fumes right now that all our organisations need to ensure we are working together to help build the bridge that will get them to those better times.”

Dave and his business partner Steve Taylor have grown Mosaic into a multi-site contract management business with an annual turnover in excess of £10 million, and Dave believes his experience in building teams will play a key part in his new role.

“I want to be an ambassador and champion for the growth hub – and small business across the Marches generally – so I see my role as promoting the great work that the hub is already doing and supporting and facilitating the really good people we have to build even further on that success.

“My experience in roles such as being deputy chair of the UK Active Members Council means I have often had to bring together businesses and organisations and get them to work collaboratively, and that will be key to the hub’s ongoing success.

“One of my favourite sayings is that a high tide raises all boats and I believe the more successful the growth hub is in its work delivering business support, advice and signposting funding, the more successful the region will be overall.”

Dave – who was born in London and divides his time between Shrewsbury and Suffolk - says he is immensely proud to work in Shropshire and the Marches and has developed a deep affection for the region.

“What I love most about this region is the warm welcome that it gives anybody coming here and that everybody wants to help each other out. There is a real sense of collaboration that you do not find everywhere in the country and that is something which sets it apart.

“Of course it is a very beautiful part of the world and there are a lot of great places to visit, but it is the people who make it so special and I am delighted to be able to play a part in helping build a prosperous economy for all of them.” 

Pictured: Dave Courteen


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