A GROUP of business leaders have joined forces in a bid to attract millions of pounds worth of investment to Colchester.

Colchester Ambassadors launched last night at the House of Commons.

The ceremony saw hundreds of businesspeople, councillors and politicians come together to promote the borough.

The group proposed a “golden opportunity” to firms which are hoping to set up, expand or relocate and called on existing businesses to get on board and promote Colchester.

Tim Price, operations director at the Ardleigh-based Park City Consulting, said: “There really aren’t many places that offer Colchester’s unique combination in terms of businesses prospects, entrepreneurial outlook, culture and heritage, as well as first-class training and education provision.

“When companies are looking for a new location to grow their business, we want to ensure that Colchester is firmly on their radar and that they recognise we have a highly skilled and entrepreneurial workforce to help achieve their goals.”

Stephen Clark, managing director of Churchmanor Estates – the firm behind the Stane Park development – added: “Colchester has one of the fastest growing economies in the UK – it’s had the seventh largest population growth in the past decade and fifth largest growth in housing.

“It is therefore crucial that organisations like ourselves do everything we can to create and encourage the necessary job opportunities so that people have employment on their doorstep that is rewarding and fulfilling. The ambassadors share a pride in Colchester – a desire to see it flourish and a willingness to give our time to promote it.

Tony Fisher, senior partner at Fisher Jones Greenwood solicitors labelled the town “the creative capital of Essex” while Lorna Fox O’Mahony, Essex University’s deputy vice-chancellor designate, pointed to Colchester’s “world-class knowledge economy”.

Alison Andreas, principal of Colchester Institute, added: “When people are deciding where to set up their business, we know the quality of education for their children is one of the key factors in their choice.”

The launch event was hosted by Colchester MP Will Quince.

He said: “Colchester has a unique heritage and a bright future – and it is that bright future that we are here to showcase today.

“We know Colchester is a great place to do business and we want to encourage more companies to relocate to our town – Colchester is the place to be.

“We want to show everyone the golden opportunity that Colchester presents to investors, relocating businesses and existing organisations within our town.”

The event was also given a ringing endorsement from Anne Milton, minister of state for apprenticeships and skills, who told the delegation: “You are doing what I would like every town to be doing.”

Paul Smith, leader of Colchester Council, praised the ambassadors’ work, which has no political allegiance.

He said: “Events like this won’t work if it’s just politicians saying how good Colchester is but when businesspeople say how good it is, that really strikes home.”

The senior Lib Dem also pointed to a “stunning” level of success in the town’s digital economy and said 16 per cent of all business in the town is in the digital sector – almost double the national average.

Mr Smith added: “We have the facilities to allow business to grow in Colchester and we heard from many of the leaders tonight why they think Colchester is the right place to grow their businesses.”