Dartmouth business owners and councillors have unanimously backed proposals to set up a Chamber of Commerce for the town.
The Chamber of Commerce was being proposed by local MP Anthony Mangnall, Chris Averill and Ed Botterill.
The aim of the chamber will be to promote and protect local businesses around Dartmouth.
Local businesses are currently losing out from effectively communicating with local authorities and services about their needs and concerns without collective representation that comes from businesses speaking as one voice.
More than 30 interested parties attended a meeting to discuss the venture at Dartmouth Guildhall.
Opening the meeting, Ed Botterill said: “This will happen with the will of Dartmouth businesses.”
Anthony Mangnall MP set out the aims of the Chamber: “It’s about bringing businesses together and allowing them to be able to work together - to talk about some of the common challenges they face but also to think about their long-term strategy;
"To engage at both local and national level to make sure that actually this town isn’t overlooked because Dartmouth and the districts has got some fantastic businesses,” he said.
The meeting centred around a survey that was sent out to businesses in Dartmouth. The results showed that more than half of them want to join the Chamber of Commerce and that they are optimistic about their future in Dartmouth.
The majority of businesses who responded had five or less employees.
The businesses main concerns were around the parking capacity for visitors around the town - particularly during the height of the tourist season, availability of staff due to lack of affordable local housing around Dartmouth, and general business costs with many respondents asking for business tax reductions in the area.
There is a strong motivation from businesses and councillors already to establish the group, with a feeling that setting up a Chamber of Commerce for Dartmouth is ‘long overdue’. Councillors from Dartmouth Town Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council were all present to show their support.
Mr Mangnall added: “I want to support local businesses and make sure they’re resilient for the future, that they can hire local people, they can inject more money into the local economy, and I really want to see businesses succeed…
“It’s no good having empty high streets, having high unemployment, we want to have people in these jobs. We want to have people taking advantage of working and living in the South West and that’s really important.”
The next step will be electing an executive and organising the first meeting of the Chamber.
Both are expected to happen in the next few months.