SWINDON is a place of contrasts, urban and rural, old and new, long established business and a hotbed of start-ups and entrepreneurial spirit. It has the ability to surprise and delight.

It has an incredible back story and history but is always moving with the times and adapting.

Like most places it also has some challenges and things to improve on but by promoting it more effectively and securing investment we can, together, make those improvements.

Switch On To Swindon is about projecting our town outwards to businesses looking for a good place to invest and bring more jobs to the town.

It’s also about helping companies attract the right staff as well as educating its young people.

Apart from economic incentives, Swindon has many attractions, including an active community, voluntary and heritage sector.

I was reminded of this last week when hearing about a presentation that Gavin Calthrop, the head of Place Marketing, gave to a group of small businesses at a networking event.

When asked what he thought Swindon’s unique selling points were, he reeled off the facts about how connected Swindon is to the region and country; choice and affordability of housing; the potential for existing and relocating businesses to grow.

He quickly faced some challenging feedback that can be summarised as follows – all good technical reasons why a business might look at Swindon but not reasons that people would choose to work, live and stay in Swindon.

Quite right too and some cracking examples quickly followed:

  •  A thriving voluntary and community sector with more than 400 registered charities in Swindon and countless more community organisations.
  •  A fantastic cycle network, including a regional cycle route (#26) as well as a national route (#45) which links Chester with Salisbury via Swindon.
  • The Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal which has a stretch running from Kingshill to the new Waitrose in Wichelstowe along with a stretch in Wichelstowe itself.

There were many more and we now have plenty of material for the ‘Live’ section of the Switch on to Swindon website. Swindon’s hidden gems of culture also featured in the conversation and last week saw the programme launch for the Swindon Festival Of Literature.

The festival, now in its 24th year, will run from May 1-13 and is firmly established on the national calendar.

During the 12 days, authors and speakers appearing at venues in town will include established names not only from the world of literature, including novelists and poets, but also from history, science, politics, philosophy, sport, art and comedy.

Please do visit the festival website to find out more and I encourage you all to support this fantastic event.

It can be found at www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk.

As I get out and about banging the Switch On To Swindon drum, I am encouraged to see just how many people feel invested in the town and want to celebrate what is great about it now, while contributing to ensuring it remains great in the future.

Switch On To Swindon is about tapping into energy and coming together to promote Swindon. Please go to the website switchontoswindon.com to find out more.