Twenty people representing 14 companies met at King Street Studios last night to start a conversation with Kim Graham and Simon Smith from Newcastle Borough Council who are looking for input and ideas to help shape the economic development strategy for 2017 – 2021 for Newcastle Borough.This was just one section of our monthly business network meeting.

Paul farmer OBE
Wade Ceramics
Guest Speaker April 2015

Connects is approaching its third Birthday and was set up as an opportunity for small businesses in the Stoke and Newcastle areas to get together over coffee and good food and share what’s happening in the local community. We have a guest speaker at each event who always has a positive story to share. We were quite frankly sick of the negative narrative that resounded in the national, and often local press (even if under the banner of ‘local and proud’)

We were aware of all the positive things the area had to offer and wanted to shout about it.

Connects started life at The Coffee Lounge in Burslem where we successfully promoted the venue as a great place to have business meetings. We also forged successful partnerships between the Swan Bank community and the local business and community groups in Burslem that are having a lasting effect today.

“From this first initial meeting we have been able to make Business contacts which has enabled us to flourish.  We have now over 430 Businesses on our data base and this has all started from the connections we made at that event”

Mike Whittingham, Hayward Academy.

We then moved to the New Vic Theatre and steadily grew the regular attendees to include Newcastle businesses and created an alliance with the Business Improvement District who now support us by paying for all BID members to attend the meetings. This also attracted more community groups which broadened and added to the evenings conversations.

We now meet on the on 3rd Wednesday of each month with attendees arriving from 6.00pm at King Street Studios and have between twenty and thirty businesses and community groups attending on a regular basis. However as we don’t charge an annual fee people tend to drop in and out of the meetings as available or depending on the guest speakers etc, therefore there is always a fantastically variety of people attending. Over 200 businesses have been represented since we started and we tend to add new a business or two each month. The meetings are very informal and include the opportunity to have the floor for 60 seconds to promote your business, event or community activities. All are welcome.

“Great evening meeting other local businesses who clearly care about the Newcastle under Lyme environment and all brought great positivity to the meeting. Well worth attending”

Ruth Palmer, Trent Art.

Our guest speaker on April 19th is Iain Cartwright, Executive Director of British Ceramics Biennial

Our speaker on 17th May is Carol Shanahan, Managing Director of Synectics Solutions.

To find out more visit:

Business Improvement District

Hayward Academy

Trent Art

For more information contact Pete Herbert