Lowestoft business connector says town to have 'sea change for the better'
- Credit: Mick Howes
The man at the heart of a project to get Lowestoft working together says the town is in a prime position to reap the rewards of a "sea change for the better."
For the past two years Jason Benham has been "on the ground" in Lowestoft as the town's business connector, providing support to the Lowestoft Place Board as Business Connector Lowestoft – BITC.
The not-for-profit Business in the Community (BITC) group is behind a project to bring businesses, councils and other stakeholders in the town together - with some big ideas for the future.
And Mr Benham says he has seen at first-hand the "amazing" community response amid the continuing coronavirus crisis, having helped vulnerable communities and those in need of support in Lowestoft.
He has been working with business partners, Access Community Trust, supermarkets, foodbanks, the Salvation Army and Belle Coaches to help get food parcels to the most vulnerable residents, including a high proportion of over 70s.
Mr Benham said: "It has not just been about businesses uniting, it has been organisations across the town working with us.
"But it is also really important to have not just the businesses of Lowestoft involved, but national businesses as well supporting the town.
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"Major companies offered an array of ingredients to assist The PINK Orange charity in delivering food to more than 18,000 households across Suffolk and Norfolk from its distribution hub in Lowestoft.
"We have had companies coming forward offering equipment to farms and three different companies helped support the Kirkley Pantry - a branch of ‘Your Local Pantry’ - which launched in December."
Now, after the Government revealed the road map out of Covid restrictions this week, Mr Benham is now looking at "the recovery".
He said: "The future for Lowestoft, with the flood defences project, hopefully a successful Towns Fund bid for just short of £25m and The Gull Wing crossing is just the start.
"It is really putting Lowestoft on the map and a real sea change for the better.
"For me it's the right way to attract the new businesses into the town.
"We are aware it is a long term recovery for the community (after Covid-19), but Lowestoft really has got some fantastic things in place."
BITC is holding an online event at 10am on March 23 to support those most impacted by Covid-19.
It will discuss the employment challenges faced in the East of England with a series of key speakers.