On Thursday, I attended the 2020 Vision Business Expo at the Kent County Showground at Detling. Organised by Business Support Kent under their new name BSK CIC, and supported by Kent County Council, it’s fast becoming the premier business to business event in the county. I was there bright and early at 6.30am, ready to speak at the Visit Kent Business Breakfast. I was due to launch the Kent Contemporary Campaign to raise the numbers of visitors to the county. Speaking ahead of me were Amanda Cottrell, Chairman of Visit Kent and recent recipient of KCC’s Invicta Award; and Nick Hewer, Alan Sugar’s right hand man on TV’s ‘The Apprentice’. The first two campaign visuals from M & C Saatchi were presented to a packed audience, along with details of the ‘Faces and Places’ campaign which will run alongside the Contemporary programme. In all, there were some really positive comments made about Kent Contemporary, and the visuals will begin appearing in printed media and on poster sites in the next few weeks.
The rest of my day was fairly packed, with a press conference to launch the ‘Greet The World’ joint tourism programme with French colleagues; interviews with the media and a whistle-stop tour of the four hundred exhibitors, occupying over a mile of stand space.
My day ended with the “Reach for the Sky” business dinner, where over two hundred business people saw the announcement of this year’s winner of the Kent Innovation Showcase, then listened to an entertaining and thought-provoking after-dinner presentation from Jo Salter, the world’s first female fast jet pilot and now a motivational speaker. My slot followed Jo’s, and since both Nick Hewer and later James Caan from TV’s Dragon’s Den had spoken about the importance of recruiting young people as interns or apprentices, I changed around my proposed speech and instead introduced Pauline Smith, who heads up KCC’s apprecticeship programme and a young man called Keith Jackson. Keith gave a superb speech (written at lunchtime that day!) about how he had worked at Nando’s restaurant chain before he applied to join KCC as an apprectice.
I closed by encouraging Kent businesses to take on young apprentices, as during a recession companies often cut back their staff, starting with the youngest and stifling their organisation’s succession planning. The 2020 Vision event is a vital way to communicate with Kent’s business community, and I look forward to next year.