Central Bedfordshire Council has signed a Small Business Engagement Accord with the FSB, pledging to promote locally-based small firms and their contribution to the economy.
Charles Smith and Damian Cummins, respectively chair of the North Bedfordshire and Luton & South Bedfordshire branches, signed the Accord on behalf of the Federation of Small Businesses.
Mr Cummins said: "The Federation is working with Central Bedfordshire on a range of issues which affect small businesses. The signing of the Accord confirms the council’s intent for that work to continue, which is to be welcomed."
Mr Smith added: “Where local authorities sign this Accord, small businesses are able to put their views and concerns directly to decision-makers.”
The signing of the Accord follows a business breakfast hosted by Central Bedfordshire Council. More than 80 business people attended to discuss the council’s 2012-13 budget plans, which put the local economy at the top of the council’s agenda.
Council leader Cllr James Jamieson (pictured) said the two events were important steps in the authority’s drive to make Central Bedfordshire a ‘Beacon for Business’.
He added: "These are tough times but Central Bedfordshire Council is up for the challenge to show that Central Bedfordshire is open for business and that we are keen to engage with local businesses.”
At the breakfast meeting, he outlined measures already taken to boost the local economy, including a new economic development plan and the TimeBank business support scheme.
Cllr Jamieson said: "Small businesses are very much at the heart of our local communities, creating wealth and employment opportunities. It is essential that we work closely together."
He named improvements to transport infrastructure and broadband as key to growing the local economy.
"We need to improve transport connections and ease pressure on our overcrowded road network. That is why we are proposing to increase investment in roads as well as supporting significant developments like the Luton to Dunstable Busway and the delivery of the A5- M1 link.
“With journey times of 12 minutes between Dunstable and Luton station, the busway will benefit existing residents as well as attracting new business to the area."