Council leader talks about manufacturing in Huntingdonshire

Hotel Chocolat in St Neots is a manufacturing success story.

Hotel Chocolat in St Neots is a manufacturing success story. - Credit: HOTEL CHOCOLAT

The news of Sir Clive Sinclair’s death recently served as a reminder of his local connections where in the seventies he started manufacturing his famous pocket calculators from the old mill in St Ives, and of Huntingdonshire’s longstanding, if often unobtrusive, association with manufacturing.

For example, I’m sure most people have heard of Hotel Chocolat, but how many realise they are one of Huntingdonshire’s success stories - manufacturing, packing and shipping 250 million chocolates a year here in our district.

Ryan Fuller is the executive leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Ryan Fuller is the executive leader of Huntingdonshire District Council. - Credit: HDC

As I heard when I visited them, such is their success that they’ve taken on 200 additional staff in recent months and are expanding their operations to keep up with ever increasing demand.

Hotel Chocolat is committed to Huntingdonshire and likewise, the District Council is committed to doing all we can to support them and other manufacturers.

Put simply, the more successful that manufacturers such as them become the better it is for our local economy and local jobs and skills markets.

Huntingdonshire has a very strong manufacturing history. Our significant local agglomeration is made up of prestigious blue-chip companies – companies that are growing significantly despite the challenging economic environment.

We also have university spin out companies and many headed by brilliant entrepreneurs.

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According to the Centre for Business Research at the Judge Business School, Huntingdonshire also has more advanced manufacturing companies than neighbouring Peterborough, Fenland, and East Cambs.

Manufacturing therefore plays a huge part in driving growth and prosperity in Huntingdonshire, accounting for 15.3 per cent of total employment, well above the national average of 8.1 per cent.

The Centre for Business Research also suggests that this accounts for more than 13,000 jobs across the district – significantly more than any other business sector.

That’s why alongside Jonathan Djanogly MP I was also pleased to host a round-table meeting last week with 15 of Huntingdonshire’s manufacturers to hear directly from them about what the challenges and opportunities currently facing them are.

The manufacturing sector is a strong producer of Gross Value Added and so can help drive economic recovery nationally, regionally, and, of course, locally here in Huntingdonshire.

Although we have many reasons to be confident about Huntingdonshire’s position there is still more we can do. The message that came over time and time again from our local manufacturers was that they have mainly bounced back from the effects of the pandemic and are growing but are struggling to recruit locally.

With this demand likely to continue and with the Government making changes to support technical education and industry placements and invest in high value skilled jobs the message is clear: Huntingdonshire is open for business, the manufacturing sector here is growing, there are jobs available and now is a great time to consider a career in manufacturing.