Chamber creates Local Economy forum to help independent small businesses | October 2021

The Chamber of Commerce has set up a new group to help small, independent, locally owned and operated businesses. The Local Economy Forum will bring together customer-facing businesses to increase collaboration and communication, and harness that collective strength to build future resilience for the sector.

Date: Tuesday 19 October 2021

The Chamber of Commerce has set up a new group to help small, independent, locally owned and operated businesses. The Local Economy Forum will bring together customer-facing businesses to increase collaboration and communication, and harness that collective strength to build future resilience for the sector.

It has been created by expanding the remit of Chamber’s existing Retail Forum, which the Local Economy Forum will replace. Chamber describes the new group as an ‘inclusive forum open to all customer-facing businesses’ which will allow it to ‘better represent the multitude of smaller locally owned independent businesses’. The Local Economy Forum’s first meeting will be on November 15th from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at Kiki Tiki's lounge, 42 Loch Promenade, Douglas

Rebecca George, Chamber CEO, said: “The Retail Forum has been brilliant at creating a forum for discussion and action to help businesses in that sector. It came to the fore during lockdowns because it provided an established network which helped retailers to work together to ensure that essential supplies were available to the whole community. But that experience also showed that there was a need to provide a forum with a wider remit that also included the food and drink sector, hairdressers and beauty salons, gyms, motor repair and maintenance garages and pet care businesses. All of these businesses make a massive contribution to everyday life on the Island, and the economy. Many suffered disproportionately during lockdowns because the nature of their customer-facing business models meant that there was no option to set up an online alternative. Even now some are facing challenges to recover from months of reduced incomes. That’s one of the reasons why we have created the new Local Economy Forum as an additional way that Chamber can help them on the road to recovery, but the main aim is to provide a strong, collective voice for businesses in this sector.”

Andy Corrie, who was Chair of the Retail Forum, will continue in the same role with the Local Economy Forum. He said: “By working together all businesses in the sector will be in a stronger position to meet future challenges. The new forum is open to all businesses that serve the public and will offer practical help such as advice regarding Isle of Man Government support schemes, keeping businesses up to date about legal changes and consultations, and sharing information from all those who take part in the forum who will bring their own expertise, experience and knowledge.”

Chamber has forums that cover all sectors of the Island’s economy, including a Visitor Economy Forum. Some local businesses may fall into the remit of the Local Economy and/or the Visitor Economy forums, so the two groups will be working closely together.