Parkside stories: Q&A with Essex Chambers of Commerce

  • Date

    Fri 30 Jun 17

Essex Chambers of Commerce is the latest organisation to move into Parkside Office Village at the Knowledge Gateway. David Burch, Director of Policy, tells us about the Chambers' work.

Why did you decide to move to Parkside?

We previously had an office in Colchester that we had occupied for many years and which we increasingly felt was not suitable for our needs. Parkside was mentioned to us when we were considering our options and as we want to further raise the profile of the Chambers the chance to have a presence at the University seemed too good to miss.

Since moving in we have found the premises ideal for our needs and we look forward to further developing our relations with the University. We are also shortly opening an office at Harlow College to focus on west Essex in addition to our existing offices in Basildon, Southend and Thurrock giving us a physical presence across the county, which no other organisation like ours has.

What does Essex Chambers of Commerce do?

We are a business membership organisation offering a wide range of support services to our members. For example, we:

  • arrange networking events and exhibitions to enable businesses to engage with each other
  • lobby on behalf of our members, meeting Essex MPs and government ministers along with local councils on a regular basis
  • hold dinners in the House of Commons with MPs which selected members are invited to
  • provide training courses and support to exporters and offer a discounted export documentation service to members
  • provide access to HR support, online health and safety training and advice on tendering for contracts

We also produce The Grapevine business newsletter that goes to 7,000 subscribers across Essex.

What types of business join a chamber?

We have a complete cross section of businesses within our membership both in terms of size and activities. They range from sole traders through to national and international companies.

What are some of the key issues facing businesses in Essex at the moment?

The key issues continually seem to be around improvements to the county’s infrastructure: our road or rail networks, improvements to broadband speeds and the coverage (or lack of it) of mobile phone networks.

Skills are another issue that is important to businesses along with support for start-up businesses. In most of these areas we support other bodies with evidence gathering and lobbying to try and ensure everyone is sending out the same messages to politicians and policy makers.

The UK's future relationship with the EU is also gaining in importance and we are working with businesses to try and identify their future needs, especially with regard to possible customs arrangements for exporters. We are running a series of courses to help them ensure they are fully compliant with existing legislation and to prepare them for any possible changes once we have actually left the EU.

Find out more

  • Parkside Office Village is home to an innovative cluster of companies. Construction starts soon on a second phase of seven new units which will be complete in Autumn 2018.
  • Read more about what Essex Chambers of Commerce do.