Caroline has extensive experience with small and medium sized enterprises, both as a business owner for 20 years and from her role in Parliament. She was a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee from 2012 to 2015 and Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Group for Manufacturing. In 2013, Caroline was appointed Small Business Ambassador for the South by the Prime Minister.
Locally, with 0.51 of a job per working adult on the Gosport peninsula, Caroline has made economic regeneration an absolute priority.
With 21% of the constituency land owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), and multiple sites such as the Royal Clarence Yard and Fort Blockhouse up for disposal, Caroline has been putting pressure on the Ministry of Defence to ensure that site disposals will bring benefits to the local area.
As such, Caroline set up the Gosport Taskforce in 2016, where they discuss the disposal of military sites such as HMS Sultan and Fort Blockhouse. She has also been working alongside Berkeley Homes and the Royal Clarence Marina Residents Association to encourage business growth in Royal Clarence Yard and met with the MOD to ensure its suitable disposal.
In addition to her work to bring an Enterprise Zone to the disused military airfield at Daedalus, she's been part of a number of successful Regional Growth Fund bids across the area including the 'Bridging the Gap' fund for small and medium businesses which secured over £4 million for local businesses.
More generally across Gosport, Hill Head, Stubbington and Lee On The Solent, Caroline has campaigned for the regeneration of Waterfront having met with the British Retail Consortium, backed the Council's submission to the Portas Review, and helped secure £100,000 of funding from the Government. She also backed their bid to the £675 million Future High Streets Fund which aims to transform high streets and town centres.
With the fantastic location of the Gosport Peninsula, Caroline is keen to further develop this location a world-class yacht destination. In 2011 she was instrumental in the formation of the Gosport Marine Scene, bringing local businesses & organisations together to promote the area as a major marine and sailing destination on the south coast. This was expanded to include the wide Portsmouth Harbour area in 2019 and you can find out more about them here.
This continued growth is supported by Caroline's close work with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) since its establishment in 2011 - aiming to develop sustainable economic growth and private investment in the Solent. She is keen to ensure that Gosport, Stubbington, Hill Head and Lee On The Solent are at the forefront of regeneration plans and consistently seeks updates on their progress and future plans. The Solent LEP have recently published the 'Gosport Infrastructure Investment Plan' which can be found here.
Caroline regularly meets with local employers – from major companies such as BAE to micro-businesses and has been a keen advocate of apprenticeships, supporting schemes at the CEMAST Centre, the Civil Engineering Training Centre and Huhtamaki, among others and is a supporter of Small Business Saturday.
Across the constituency, she has hosted various events for local entrepreneurs and businesses including a Disability Confident conference and hosts an annual Enterprise Fair during Enterprise Week. Caroline has also organised many events for senior school pupils surrounding business. One welcomed Baroness Karren Brady for an 'Apprentice' inspired business & entrepreneurship workshop at Bay House School and another at Bridgemary School which welcomed Jacqueline Gold CBE and a cohort of successful local businesswomen from the local area for an Enterprising Women event.
A study by GMB Southern found that full-time workers’ mean gross annual pay in 2018 was 86.4% of what it was in 2007, however Gosport was one of only two areas who saw an earnings increase, standing at 110.9% of the figure in 2007. Caroline welcomed these findings, which shows the positive benefits of her actions to regenerate the Gosport economy.