AS a resident of Swindon for 28 years, working for one of its major employers, I’ve known for a long time that Swindon is a great place to call home, writes JENNY GROVES.

But quite how successful and attractive Swindon is in terms of the national landscape had slightly passed me by until recently, and I suspect I’m far from alone.

So I’m tremendously excited to be taking up the role of chairman of the new Place Board that has been established to shine a spotlight on Swindon and show that Swindon is a great place to live, work, invest in and visit.

One dark cold evening last month, more than 400 business people and community representatives gave up their own time to be at the official launch of Switch On To Swindon, the campaign that the Place Board will be driving forward.

That’s a lot of busy people who were interested enough in learning about how the private sector now has a powerful vehicle to raise the profile of the town.

During the evening we heard the chief executive of Doncaster Council, Jo Miller, speak passionately about how a similar initiative in her area has had a spectacularly strong positive impact on Doncaster businesses, the local economy, and on the prospects for residents and workers there.

The key to their initiative’s success was that it was led by businesses and the community, rather than by the public sector.

As the premiere of a film of our town, called Swindon’s In Motion, produced by Create Studios, drew to an end, the lights went up to rapturous applause.

Suddenly, we all saw Swindon through fresh eyes, and realised how we all tend to take a fantastic place with great people a bit too much for granted.

In case you don’t know – and I’ll admit that before I started getting involved with the Place Marketing Board I was unaware of much of this myself – here are just a couple of reasons why we want the world to switch on to Swindon.

It’s a rewarding place to do business, for a start.

The growth in total output of Swindon’s economy between 2014 and 2015 was the third highest in the UK, at 5.4 per cent. Swindon’s workforce is the tenth most productive in the entire country.

We’ve got a knowledge-based economy that is excellent at innovating and bringing new products to market – in fact, we have the fifth highest number of patents published per 100,000 residents in the UK.

In addition, I know from personal experience that Swindon is massively accessible in terms of rail and road links, but that within a few minutes of my doorstep I can be surrounded by green and open countryside.

That is not to say that Swindon does not have some areas where things need to improve.

Ensuring we have the right housing mix for a growing population; enabling people to develop the right skills and regenerating the town centre are top of most people’s lists. The Place Board has come about at exactly the right time.

It matters that we pull together and focus on improving things and to get the positive messages out about Swindon, because to sustain and grow our economy and allow everyone to benefit from it we need to attract and retain talented individuals and businesses.

As Chair, I’m going to be working with very able colleagues and, most importantly, asking you, Swindon’s employers, entrepreneurs, community leaders and residents to contribute to this initiative too.

We’ve been too quiet about our town for too long. We owe it to ourselves to switch the world on to Swindon.

To see Swindon’s in Motion, go to the video section of Switch on to Swindon on Facebook –