‘We’re bigging up Dacorum’

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Dacorum’s leaders were in no doubt that spending money on a campaign to promote the area is a good idea when they spoke out about it at a business expo.

The Dacorum Look No Further campaign involves the creation of a special Monopoly board – one of only three versions approved this year – as well as bags, pens and a range of literature.

A specially created Dacorum Look No Further logo looks not unlike the Magic Roundabout, with one big inner circle surrounded by six smaller ones.

The council has given the campaign a two year budget of £300,000 with the aim of attracting more companies and jobs to the area, making sure others don’t leave and helping small firms to grow.

Speaking at the first Dacorum Look No Further showcase on Friday, Daniel Zammit, Dacorum Borough Council’s chief executive, said: “If companies looking to locate stick a pin somewhere in the south east we want to make it so that this is one of the places where they stick the pin.”

Some 78 local businesses and services took space at the showcase expo, held at Shendish Manor Hotel, in Apsley. They included Ashridge Business School, Furnell Transport, Hemel Cartridges, Hemel Stags Rugby League Club and Lloyds TSB to name but a few. It is all part of a strategy to help local companies find other local firms to do business with.

Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, said: “I know for a fact that central government is looking at how we got to get Amazon to open a new centre here. We can do it because we believe in it.”

A packed seminar on the subject of spreading the good news and building the borough’s reputation was told even though the country is in the “worst recession” since the second world war, Dacorum Borough Council has made investing in economic development its key priority.

Mr Zammit said: “We have an absolute passion for this place.”

The success or otherwise of the campaign will be measured by the number of jobs bought into the area and the number of companies helped to survive and thrive. Mr Penning said the area’s unemployment rate was at 3.8 per cent, which is well below the national average.

After the seminar, Business Eye asked councillor Terry Douris, the borough council’s planning and regeneration supremo, how he would explain to a cynical constituent why it makes sense to spend money on pens, logos and other marketing items during a time of austerity and cuts.

He said items with logos on them have the advantage of being around for a long time and the messages they convey are ones which are positive for the area as a whole.

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