Julie Cleaver of Popcorn Marketing was elected President of the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce at their AGM, held on 18 February. She is joined on the Executive Committee by new Vice President, Shellie Hind of Redferns Solicitors, and new Treasurer, Mike House of Albert Goodman.
Julie began her year as President with a speech saying she was honoured to be elected. She observed that the local business community had been through a stormy time recently but that lessons learned can be built on for a stronger future.
Julie stated that the Chamber had gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Membership grew by around 30% in 2013. The monthly business breakfasts, sponsored by Lloyds Bank, continued to attract 70-80 people each time and the Chamber would also continue its popular speed networking event, BreakNet Speed, sponsored by Old Mill. 2013 saw the first Buddy Breakfast event which attracted 10 new members to the Chamber.
She said: “2014 will again be a challenging year for us all. However, we can say that business is improving. We now have a Business Improvement District which is working very hard on attracting more visitors to the area. We have welcomed many new national businesses to the borough such as Sainsbury’s, Beefeater, and Screwfix, and continue to see many new businesses choosing Weymouth and Portland as a great place to invest and create new jobs.”
Julie thanked outgoing President, Mark Blunden, for all his hard work. She also thanked members of the Executive Committee who were stepping down after years of service: Mark Franklin of Franklin & Co, Fiona Penny of Sunflowers Floral Design and Alison Cocks, who has been awarded honorary membership of the Chamber.
Mark Franklin, outgoing Treasurer, presented the Chamber accounts to the meeting, noting that the Chamber made a surplus in the last year of over £1800.
In his final address as retiring President, Mark Blunden looked back on a year of successful events including the President’s Dinner, Summer BBQ and Bollywood Charity Ball, which raised over £1700 for the RNLI.
He said: “2013 business-wise has been a challenging year for us all, but there are some signs that a long overdue recovery is on the way. That said, I don’t think we are out of the woods yet and patience and diligence is needed as much now as ever. It is crucial that the councils in their united form seek to invest in projects and look for intelligent ways to bring business and growth into the area. Their long-term plans are welcome, but some quick wins are still needed along with people in these key positions with the will and determination to make changes and make them soon, including progress at North Quay, Brewers Quay and of course the Pavilion Peninsular.”
The meeting closed with a buffet, which included a special Chamber cake made by Ian Gill of Arty Party Cakes. The AGM was held at Oasis Bistro & Wine Room in Weymouth.