Chambers of Commerce for Local Business Engagement and Growth in South London

On 6th December 2022, over 40 representatives from local Chambers of Commerce, local authorities, local Business Improvement Districts, universities and the South London Partnership gathered at Kingston University’s Townhouse for the Chambers of Commerce for Local Business Engagement and Growth in South London: Towards a Sustainable Business Model event.

Collaboration sat at the heart of the event. Following a research study, carried out earlier in the year, led by the academic teams from Roehampton and Kingston Universities, working with both Merton and Kingston Chambers of Commerce, the purpose was to review the best models of business engagement in post-global pandemic times.

Attendees heard from Mamata Parhi from Roehampton University about the aim of the research to propose a revised and sustainable business model for all those who engage with businesses. The research methodology included a mix of secondary data research and a primary survey of businesses in five South London boroughs – Merton, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Croydon.

What were the main findings? The study concluded that there was a mismatch of local and regional services to support businesses and the demand for them. The study also addressed changes in behaviours since the Covid pandemic and found that the demand to access information online had increased substantially. Other findings included a lack of awareness by businesses on the services on offer and recommended a radical new way of thinking and prioritising models for business engagement.

Although there were ten clear recommendations in the report (executive summary attached) the event attendees agreed there were four key recommendations for action:

  1. An increase in partnership working
  2. More focus at a borough level
  3. Improvement in communications
  4. Better reach to include a diversity of engagement

Diana Sterck, CEO of Merton Chamber of Commerce, concluded “It was so good to see so many representatives from different organisations come together to address shared issues. The recommendations are critical to sustainable business models and I look forward to working in collaboration to deliver new ways of business engagement.”

Forbes Low, CEO of Kingston Chamber of Commerce, noted “This was a unique day. It brought together a broad range of business partners together from South London, to share their insights and experiences of how the Chambers can take practical steps to strengthen their sustainability, business engagement and visibility. The next steps are important, to turn recommendations into actions. I certainly hope we can make this event happen again.”

Paul Kirkbright, Programmes Director at BIG South London said, “This event made great strides in uncovering a path to future business prosperity in South London. Across the region, we have major strengths in health, life sciences, and the creative industries, but in order to keep thriving, we must put the right support in place. At BIG South London, we’re looking forward to continuing our work with Chamber and university partners, councils, and businesses, to make these goals a reality.

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Posted 16/12/22

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