Saturday 2nd December was ‘Small Business Saturday’, a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and raise the profile of the great offerings in our independent shops. In a whistle stop tour I visited an array of stores selling items from fudge to clothing, and from lighting to kitchens. What struck me was not only the variety of goods on offer but the friendliness and warmth of our local shop-owners.
It is this warm welcome that contributes to Ely being one of the best performing town centres in Britain. In fact, so popular is our area and such is the community spirit, that by the time I got round to buying a ticket for the Ely Cathedral Christmas fair they were all sold out.
Small Business Saturday is a great initiative but support comes, not only in recognising and publicising great work, but also in concrete assistance to help our businesses grow.
Last month I was delighted to kick off the ‘East Cambridgeshire Business Boost’, a collaboration between Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, and the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses, amongst others, to help support our local business men and women.
It was a great event with high tech companies Google and Microsoft sharing technology tips along with Sandler Training offering sales advice.
Cambridgeshire now has more than 45,000 companies located in the county. Many of these are small businesses. This was a great opportunity to help our brilliant local entrepreneurs expand their skills and improve their local businesses. We learned about new technologies, and how to use them - and rightly so, as the technological revolution is already upon us. Whilst it took 75 years for the telephone to reach 50 million users, it has taken the internet a mere 4 years to reach this same milestone. What’s more the ‘Angry Birds’ app took only 35 days.
The East Cambridgeshire Business Boost event also provided a great opportunity for those present to network and meet other local businesses, another vital contributing factor to successful businesses, of which we can boast many.
In fact, East Cambridgeshire was recently highlighted as the front runner in terms of business and employment growth in the LEP area.
I have been delighted to have had the opportunity to visit a number of local companies who have recently made multi-million pound investments in our area including Thorlabs, Faerch Plast, CP Foods and the new sake brewery in Fordham.
This also shows that the landscape and opportunities encouraged and present within our community enable small, medium and large size businesses to thrive and is certainly something for our area to be proud of.