Mike Wallis takes part in business panel discussions on regional strengths, importing, exporting, the transition from the EU and more…

One of the highlights of the Love Business Expo is the annual Q+A panel, which sees key business figures from across the Heart of the Midlands come together to debate the burning business questions of the day. Spatial Global’s CEO Mike Wallis was asked to sit on the panel as the expert on international trade and logistics. A fellow panelist was Jess Barnett of TTK Confectionery.

The UK’s International Trade Hub

A key topic of debate was the importance of a strong regional identity and significance of the regions location, at the heart of the Midlands. The fantastic road, rail and air links which radiate out from East Midlands Airport and the new East Midlands Gateway put Spatial Global and the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire at the epicentre of the UK’s international trade hub.

North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen

Ably chaired by entrepreneur Ninder Johal DL, the other panelists comprised of North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen, East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles, LLEP Chair Kevin Harris and D2N2’s Natalie Gasson. A wide variety of topics surrounding the role that Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire play as the ’Heart of the Midlands’ were discussed. Once Ninder had set the scene and talked about the importance of strong regional identity, several businesses in the audience put their questions to the panel.

What lies ahead for the Heart of the Midlands'

At the end of the discussions, Ninder asked each member of the panel to sum up the opportunities that lie ahead for the Heart of the Midlands over the next three years. There was broad agreement that lack of collaboration remains an issue and that more could be done to put on a unified face for the East Midlands to Government.

This should include devolving more powers from central government to an elected mayor representing the region, something that all panel members were open to. “The problem for the East Midlands is that it is stuck between the two Andy’s,” said Ninder (referring to Birmingham Mayor Andy Street and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham). “That’s OK… we’ve got Andrew Bridgen!” said Andrew Bridgen MP.

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