The Forest of Dean has a strong history of resilience and the ability to adapt to changes in economic and environmental circumstances, a skillset of particular relevance given the current turbulent climate.
From the evolution of Iron Ore to Coal Mining and the management of the Forest's timber and its use for naval shipbuilding, the Forest of Dean has been on the forefront of some of the greatest manufacturing and economic advances in British history.
In 1949, Remploy established a factory at Parkend to employ disabled people, including former miners. The factory made various goods, including brushes and protective clothing, and packed spare parts for Rank Xerox Ltd of Mitcheldean.
Further loss of mining jobs from the late 1950’s and the closure of cable works near Lydbrook in 1965 prompted renewed initiatives to increase industrial employment in the Forest. Many miners found work in established concerns such as Lister's factory in Cinderford and Rank Xerox's factory in Mitcheldean, both of which were enlarged at that time. Showing the resilience of the residents of the Forest of Dean to be able to transfer their skills and adapt to change.
Beginning in 1975 the District Council, a year after it’s formation, laid out the Forest Vale industrial estate, covering 104 acres on the west side of Cinderford; 40 businesses had premises there by 1985 and more factory space was provided in 1986. The site today hosts 86 businesses and there is scope for further employment activity within the development of the neighbouring Northern Quarter.
In 2003 Rank Xerox closed their doors which at one point employed 5,000 people. Once again the bulk of these former employees picked themselves up and found alternative employment without having to travel too far or leave the area. The site was sold to a local businessman who over the last twenty years has been able to attract over 100 local and inward investing firms, employing some 3000 people and making a significant contribution to the local tax base.
In 2018, the Forest of Dean District Council launched the Forest Economic Partnership, to help amplify the voice of all businesses within the District and offer a route towards shaping the economic future across all 203 square miles.
Launched following the removal of the Severn Bridge Tolls, the Forest of Dean ‘Open for Business’ brochure introduces you to an excellent sample of Forest based businesses and highlights the broad range of business support available should a business wish to set up shop here - one of the South West region’s best kept secrets.
The publication also promotes the Forest’s first-rate secondary and further education provision, and provides a directory of our growing number of social enterprises. A must-read not just for those curious about the area’s growth, but equally for those who are experiencing it first-hand and trying to keep afloat during Covid-19 lockdown.
View Forest of Dean 'Open for Business' Brochure here.