Wandsworth Enterprise Week has now been and gone and, I think, can be called a success. Over the course of the week hundreds of businesses, and potential business owners, attended the various themed events that had been put on by the council’s fabulous economic development team.
While I often joke that my rôle is merely to take the credit for the hard work of others, I think I can take some credit for starting the process a year ago when stood at the back of the 2013 Wandsworth Business Forum and deciding that the format of a stand-alone forum had become a little stale (although feedback for the event had always been positive). But a conversation on the fringes of an event is nothing compared to the inspiration and hard work of the economic development staff and town centre managers who put last week’s programme together. I’ve made a point of telling anyone (and there have been many) who complimented the events that the credit does not belong to me.
What is particularly pleasing are the comments from those businesses operating in several boroughs that Wandsworth has ‘got it’ and really is a business borough. We cannot do everything, and I know we don’t always get it right for businesses. Inevitably a council has to have a focus on residents, that is our statutory responsibility. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help businesses.
We are about to start offering business rate relief for small businesses that are either retailers, service providers or sell food or drink. The council estimates about 3,000 businesses will be eligible for the relief over the next two years and they will be invited to apply later this year.
It was also a pleasure to formally launch, in conjunction with GLE, the Business Loan Fund. And not just because it gave me a chance to hand over a novelty sized cheque. The fund, which will be £800,000 in total, will offer finance to those businesses that struggle to approvals for loans from traditional sources. More details are available from GLE Business Loans or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.