The end of the year draws near and what a year this has been for many.

Following on from the turbulence caused by COVID through 2020 and early 2021 many businesses, families and individuals have had to really dig deep into innovative and creative ways in which to ensure recovery and hopefully sustainability these will be key words for 2022.

For M&A 2020 the period has culminated in celebrating 30 years of business support and networking, a fantastic annual awards dinner, a new website and a new vision for the future, with new faces beginning to join the board.

Thanks go out to Brian Smith, Mick Mumford and John Morley for their contributions and a warm welcome is given to Emma McLaughlin who joins the team in January.

And special thanks must be given to Vice Chair Jane Box who has done a fantastic job supporting myself and the board and without whom the task would be that much harder.

The time saved by Jane preparing and delivering breakfast meeting sessions has allowed time for critical conversations and meetings with many more stakeholders in the business and academic communities.

Thanks also go out to Brian Stopford, Mathew Relf, Andrew Abrahams, Elizabeth Orridge, Nicky Silver and Louise Knott for their continued support and efforts.

M&A 2020 have done everything in their power as a “not for profit” organization to help wherever possible.

Holding twice monthly virtual networking sessions to keep businesses in touch with each other and to help with someone to talk to when needed.

Providing vital help and support via webinars, Q+A sessions with local MP’s and key members of our Local Authorities.

Striving to keep our renowned breakfast meetings going with virtual events until holding our first face to face session again in September of this year.

Holding our virtual awards of 2020 followed by a massively successful face to face awards held in September with an audience of around 280 showing how much the business community want to support each other and how we can be there for them.

During the pandemic I have spoken many times on Mansfield 103.2 about the resilience of the area following the loss over the years of the Coal industry and its supply chain, the hosiery factories, and the brewery. I have also spoken of the large number of new businesses which highlights a fantastic entrepreneurial spirit around this part of Nottinghamshire.

But is does not end there.

Our Director of Operations, Ella McManus has worked tirelessly to support myself and the Board with all the above whilst also working behind the scenes to build a new and exciting website that will I am sure bring better support and business interaction during the coming months and years. I, on behalf of the board and you the members, thank her for all the great work done.

November saw us launch our “Women in Business” group which is hopefully going to allow more local business minded people to engage and understand exactly what we are about and how we can support them.

And at our November breakfast meeting VWNC showcased some of the robotics that is to be a fundamental part of skills enhancement in the locality.

As for me as Chair, I sit on both Discover Ashfield and Making Mansfield Place Boards, in order to contribute, and to support, local spend initiatives and projects of which there are many coming over the next 4 or 5 years.

I am engaged with the D2N2 Peer group programme supporting local businesses and would urge those of you who have not tried it to give it a go. You will get some great advice and support from your peers.

Nottingham Trent University and Vision West Nottinghamshire College continue to work up some fantastic and exciting courses to give our young people far more educational pathways and routes into employment. This work is the start of a journey initiated when local businesses were asked to work alongside a new college ethos and to help academia understand local needs and looks to be heading in the right direction.

As part of an NTU business/academia group, an NTU community group and as Vice Chair of the D2N2 Skills hub careers for young people group I also take local business wants and needs to academics in the hope we can find better solutions to bridge the skills gaps seen over several years.

And it goes without doubt that it would be remis of me not to mention the brilliant support of local businesses, the Resolve IT students from VWNC and other IT providers to the digital poverty campaign which M&A 2020 have also supported.

Volunteering in our area is amongst the best I have encountered, and it makes me proud to be part of this community and it should never be underestimated just how much this means to those less fortunate in the area.

I must pay tribute to VWNC students who as part of the Resolve IT team have helped the “wemakeICThappen” campaign by repurposing donated equipment, the students in the Refined restaurant who are going to become fantastic advocates for all things fine dining over the coming years and the Media students offering their time to support the Armchair club sports recognition awards with video and photographic work.

My ask is as always, that you come along to our sessions, engage with our new website, talk to us about your challenges and what you would like us to lobby about on your behalf.

A collective voice has more chance when talking to MP’s and Authorities, which has been proven over the last 30 years, and hopefully will for many more years.

Our December breakfast meeting at which we held our annual raffle (the proceeds from which we split between Mansfield and Ashfield Christmas light support funds), heard from the CEO of Cowens Group about building resilience through correct insurance and from endurance athlete, Andy Mouncy about the 6 steps needed to achieve Big and Scary goals.

We continue in our attempts to get engagement with manufacturing, engineering, and retail businesses as they form a large part of the heart of our economy and as such would welcome any ideas from these sectors or from people you may know on what we can do to get them on board?

For anyone interested please contact us at ella@mansfieldandashfield2020.com or admin@mansfieldandashfield2020.com.

Onwards and upward.

Gary Jordan
Mansfield & Ashfield 2020 Chairman
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