Steve Cox (pictured), executive director of strategy and development at the East of England Development Agency, posed the question at a debate held at the Swan Hotel in Bedford.

The event, part of the review of EEDA’s newly-launched regional economic strategy, brought representatives from Bedfordshire and across the rest of the region to air their opinions on the East of England’s future economic priorities.

Mr Cox said: “This review is a chance for anyone in Bedfordshire to give their views on where we should be focusing our resources. The event looked at aspirations, where we want to be in 2031, and what benefits arise from our close proximity to London, and showed that there are many differing and valuable views on where we could be concentrating our efforts.

“In addition to regional economic performance, which is obviously of paramount importance to the business community, we are also hoping for input on many other issues. Climate change, the impact of globalisation for the region, and the distinct roles of cities and rural communities must be considered alongside future technologies and existing perceptions of the East of England, so we’re encouraging anyone else who has an opinion to come forward.”

Representatives from organisations including Bedfordshire and Luton Economic Development Partnership, Luton Borough Council and Bedford Borough Council were at the debate to give their views on what challenges they would like to see addressed and what opportunities they believe could be fully exploited.

The debate was the first in a series of events taking place over the over the coming months including stakeholder discussions, consultation events and meetings which will give key organisations the chance to have their say on the key issues facing everyone in business, whether it is the skills gap or climate change. EEDA has also commissioned a series of experts’ essays, which are designed to promote debate around the challenges and opportunities facing the East of England’s economic development.

Businesses and individuals can view and comment on the essays at www.eeda.org.uk.

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