Successful start for Chamber’s Local Economy Forum | First meeting for new initiative to support small businesses | Nov 2021

Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce launched their Local Economy Forum earlier this week with the first meeting attended by representatives from a broad cross-section of small businesses.

Date: Thursday 18 November 2021

The Group has been created by expanding the remit of Chamber’s existing Retail Forum and will bring together customer facing businesses in hospitality and retail to increase collaboration and communication, and harness that collective strength to build future resilience for the sector
The event, held at Kiki’s Tiki Lounge in Douglas, was also attended by Treasury Minister David Ashford MBE and Tim Johnston MHK who is a member of the Department for Enterprise. The forum provides a way for small business owners to share best practice, test new ideas, collaborate and learn and, crucially, to give them a conduit to share their challenges/issues with Government.

Carol Glover, Chamber Board member with responsibility for Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses spoke at the event. She said: “Over 4,500 Isle of Man businesses are ‘micro’ businesses, employing less than nine people, Collaboration and sharing is key for these businesses and the forum is here to make that easy and convenient for owners, online or in person.”

She shared her hope that small business owners would become more confident to speak out, share trends and data, and work closely to share ideas. The forum, she added, would also enable firms to share best practices, explore opportunities to develop their businesses, and enhance the quality of life of on the Island whilst helping them realise that they are not alone regarding the issues they face.

Andy Corrie, Chair of the new Forum, said: “The High Street and consumer behaviour is undergoing massive transformation through Covid, growth of online selling and changing consumer preferences and habits. What we knew as shops are no longer the only driver of retail spend with health, fitness, hair, beauty, pet, medical, education and others just emerging, all growing fast in the retail services arena. Events over the past year or so have had a particularly significant impact on the hospitality sector, especially cafes, pubs and restaurants. Hospitality represents an important part of the local economy so we are encouraging those businesses to take part in the forum and provide a strong voice for their sector. All small businesses need to be recognised for their growth potential and contribution, and equally it needs to be easier for them to share and collaborate to aid their own development. To do this we will use multiple communication channels to gather the info that will allow us to best represent all businesses that are reliant on local consumers and clients. So the message we’re sending out to them is please keep us informed and let us know what help you need most.”

Nigel Taylor from Rock Food Concepts spoke about the pressures of owning some of the busiest and most popular restaurants in Douglas. He said: “The last 20 months have been very difficult for anyone in hospitality, made more so by the lack of appreciation by government of so many of the issues impacting us. If you’re a big business there are extra people available to talk to government. In our businesses we’re doing all the jobs, covering adaptations and are expected to deliver cogent facts when asked. I welcome the forum as it can represent more collective views, plus we are all struggling currently to recruit and we need to start by focussing on timely deliverable action to help, which is a critical issue for the Island’s customer facing businesses at present.”

Click here, or go to https://youtu.be/NvS7G40TTKE, to watch a video of the first Local Economy Forum meeting.

You can find out more about the forum, and future events, on Chamber’s website https://www.iomchamber.org.im/ (click on the ‘About IOMCOC’ tab, then the Sector Forums & Groups’ drop down tab). Or click here.

www.iomchamber.org.im