Monday, March 23, 2009

Speaking of Small Businesses

Take a look at Evansville Courier Press' Berry Plastics to create hundreds of jobs, invest millions in Evansville :

"Berry Plastics will make a “major economic development announcement” today, according to the Evansville mayor’s office.

The project will bring “hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in investment to Evansville,” the mayor’s office wrote in a statement."

Notice that is hundreds and not thousands of jobs. That is the kind of reality I really hope has sunk into Anderson.

The City ought to take a look at Decisive action needed now to shield our businesses from worst of deepening recession from The Sunday Herald:

At times like these, every small business needs access to advice and support - and it is currently unclear to those businesses where that advice is to be found. There are 260,000 small and medium businesses in Scotland (defined as businesses employing 0-49 people). That's 97% of all enterprises and 40% of private-sector employment; the lifeblood of our economy.

That's why we have entered into talks with the City of Edinburgh Council, which now manages the Business Gateway contract for Edinburgh and the Lothians, with the intention of designing a support service for businesses that will safeguard jobs in and around the capital city. Councillor Tom Buchanan, convenor of economic development at CEC, clearly understands the need for decisive action and we want to help them design a service that cuts through the bureaucracy.

And so, 100 days into this recession, where is the sense of emergency, the unity of purpose across government departments and functions, that ought to characterise Scotland's New Deal? We need to design a programme of fiscal relief, infrastructure investment and business support that protects businesses, jobs and communities at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. And we've got to do it quickly.

It's important we understand that the business community must accept responsibility and doesn't merely see this as an opportunity to take a pop at government. Chambers of Commerce have already submitted to the UK government a recovery plan which represents just such an agenda. At Edinburgh Chamber, we also recognise that our own "conventional" package of membership benefits may no longer be enough to sustain businesses at this time. Our new One Step Ahead programme is in recognition of how tough it is out there.

Our contribution has been a package of free and discounted support services - because our job is to ensure that as many of our members trade successfully through the downturn. Some examples from a range of 18 ideas already promoted by the chamber and its members illustrate the point: free one-to-one brand development clinics by marketing guru David Reid; and we have set up a bartering web portal in partnership with The Business Exchange. With Microsoft we have set up discounted access to its Business Online Productivity Suite. Members can access an outplacement and redundancy support service. STV are offering special rates for promotions and features. We are using our own advisers to offer free business health checks.

Resorting to conventional ideas leaves us behind. There are ideas out there either grasp them or explain why they are inapplicable, but just do not say we cannot do that.

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