Horton-Baker takes helm at Reading UK CICBy David Millward
February 07, 2013
A former area director at the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has been appointed the new head of economic development company Reading UK CIC.
Nigel Horton-Baker started his new job in Davidson House this week, but he is no stranger to Reading having previously been a non-executive director of the organisation.
And he says he is looking forward to returning to the town to take up the position vacated by Tim Smith, who left in October 2012 to become business director at Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Mr Horton-Baker said: “I’m an economic development professional and Reading is one of the most dynamic economies and a place where a lot of professionals want to work.
“It’s such an exciting place to be working.”
Plans and policies which Mr Horton-Baker was helping to put in place during nearly three years on the Reading UK CIC board are now coming to fruition, while others, such as Station Hill, are still in the pipeline.
Mr Horton-Baker said: “There has been quite a lot of change around the station and still a lot of vibrancy in the shopping centre.
“We’ve got the new Junction 11 on the M4 and that is working pretty well but we have had a recession and a lot of things haven’t been happening development-wise.”
Skills and unemployment issues are among the challenges facing the town, Mr Horton-Baker believes, but there is good news on the horizon with the opening of the new Tesco warehouse in South Reading and Ikea in Calcot.
Mr Horton-Baker’s connection to Reading goes back to when he achieved a diploma in management at Reading University between 1993 and 1995.
The town was also part of his patch when he was area director for Surrey and Berkshire at SEEDA between 2008 and 2011.
Since then he has been involved in a professional management consultancy and a business which organises training for apprentices for small and medium-sized firms.
He took the executive director’s seat, which has been kept warm by David Cook on an interim basis, on Monday and said he will get straight down to work.
Mr Horton-Baker said: “I want to get out and meet people. I want to get a fix on people’s aspirations, what they expect of me and what they want me to do.
“I’ve met the team already but I really want to get out there and meet the businesses in the town centre, the BID (Business Improvement District) committee and find out what’s been going on while I’ve been away.”
Reading UK CIC’s chairman, Steve Belam, general manager of The Oracle, said: “The decision to appoint Nigel was unanimous.
“His knowledge of policy issues and the rapidly-changing economic landscape, made him a natural for the job.
“Nigel was previously a non-executive director for Reading UK CIC so already understands our company and its role in local business.
“I am delighted that we had the opportunity to appoint Nigel, I speak for myself and the rest of the board of Reading UK CIC, as we look forward to working with him.”