SOMERSET Chamber of Commerce has appointed a new executive director to its board who aims to help make the county the best place to start and run a business.

Emma Rawlings, who previously worked as the chief executive of Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Services, started her new role on Wednesday, December 1. 

Emma said: "I am delighted to have accepted the position of executive director with Somerset Chamber of Commerce.

"In my previous organisations, I was on the other side of the fence as a chamber member and greatly benefited from the networking opportunities and the support that was put our way via the chamber.

"I now have the privilege of being on the other side and taking the chamber forward as the voice of Somerset for all businesses."

Before joining the chamber and working for the domestic abuse support charity, she was a director of the Ammerdown Centre in Radstock. 

"I bring a wealth of management and visionary leadership to the chamber from a comprehensive background in retail management, further education, in business – my husband and I ran our own business for about 15 years – and more recently I’ve been heavily involved in the charity sector," she said.

"I want to really help Somerset to be the place to come, the place to settle, and the place to start and run a business."

Somerset County Gazette: NEW ROLE: Emma Rawlings joined the chamber's board of directors on December 1NEW ROLE: Emma Rawlings joined the chamber's board of directors on December 1

Somerset Chamber of Commerce was set up in 1994 to support and lobby for business development in Somerset.

It now has around 500 member businesses ranging from sole traders to multi-national corporations.

Graeme Crosbie, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, welcomed Emma and said the organisation is in a strong position for the future. 

Graeme said: "We know the supply chain issues around materials, services, labour, and skills remain acute.

"The chamber will continue to listen to and amplify the concerns of Somerset businesses.

"We will make sure Somerset is well-positioned to get more than its fair share of the opportunities that are to come, both economically and commercially.

"The chamber already recognises the hot topics that are out there, like skills and the road to net-zero.

"They are here for the long-term and the chamber will be front and centre as an organisation that will be able to help businesses navigate through this."

Two new directors have also been appointed to the chamber’s board of directors: Dave Crew, head of business growth and employer partnership at Weston College, and Leona McDonald, commercial director of Marston Foods, Frome.

Read more: Shortlist revealed for the 2022 Somerset Business Awards 

Read more: Chaplins Superstore in Taunton sold to firm set up by father and son