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We have recently seen the end of the first year of our second term and our sixth year in total, and so I think that it is useful to look back on what FOR Cardiff have achieved in the last 12 months. Clearly our Annual Report and Showcase event will do this in more depth in the new year (look out for details of these very soon).
Omnicron was the variant causing havoc in and around last Christmas and curtailed various events and promotional activity to get people into the city and spending money. That said, our Christmas Light Maze and light projection in St. John’s Gardens was well received and was enjoyed by thousands of locals and visitors to the city centre.
Our Nick Jr event in Spring, delayed 3 times due to Covid restrictions was delivered in St. David’s to high acclaim and high footfall numbers to the extent that we have booked this in again for Easter 2023.
Our scheme to encourage employees of levy paying businesses to take advantage of discounts from over 70 businesses, The Card, went digital thanks to some Welsh Government funding and our new App makes it easier for people to get up to date details on discounts. If you’re interested in adding an offer/event/discount to The Card or need to order some for your staff, please let us know. FOR Cardiff’s financial input also helped to lever monies from Welsh Government’s Creative Wales arm to support the development of Minty’s Gig Guide ahead of Cardiff hosting the 6Music Festival. We are keen to get income other than that from the levy and have made good progress in this area this year.
Partnership working has probably been best displayed through the reaccreditation of Purple Flag for a second time and following a rigorous independent assessment in May. There is still work to be done but we continue to lobby others in areas where improvements need to be made.
Our Business Engagement Officers have worked hard and have made a real impact on ensuring that all of our levy paying businesses have a key contact in order for them to know about the projects that we deliver. A movement away from our Ambassadors employed in our first term toward a more dedicated liaison with sector specialisms has worked and more businesses than ever are now engaged with FOR Cardiff and are aware of the work we do for them. If you want to arrange a meeting with your sector Business Engagement Officer, please check our website for their details.
We have continued on from our first 5 year term with the delivery of hanging baskets, free, demand led training, Night Marshals and additional cleansing, and these remain important projects that businesses really value.
One of the biggest challenges faced this year has been getting businesses to attend meetings. We understand that staffing pressures and priorities have meant that people have found it harder to be involved in our retailer meetings and training sessions and we hope that this will get easier in time. If you feel as though you would like to be more involved be it through our Cardiff Against Business Crime initiative, our numerous sub groups such as marketing, commercial property, evening and night-time economy and retail, then please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). It can be very rewarding to give back to your community, help shape your city and the added bonus of being great to have on a CV.
Our events to support new business openings such as Heidi’s, Scaredy Cats and Flight Club have proved most successful (perhaps the lure of free drinks means that these are never short on numbers!) have helped them all get off to great starts and raise awareness of them by getting people attending and talking.
We have been laying down the foundations to deliver a series of projects which relate to our Business Plan commitments on equality and environmental enhancements in the city centre in 2023. Some of these projects and ideas need careful thought and so expect to see news of progress in these areas.
Our City Ambition Fund offers an opportunity for ideas that help businesses and the city centre trading environment and the outcomes of the projects delivered as a result of our first round of funding have been excellent. This year saw everything from wine passports, sustainability drives to bikes, so please feel free to approach any of the team if you have any ideas, you’d like to run past us before this fund opens for applications again.
Inevitably we lose businesses along the way but I have been encouraged by the number and quality of new operators coming into Cardiff in the last 12 months. They clearly believe that we have offer which makes investing here an attractive proposition to them and the trading conditions are strong enough. Our various events, activation’s and partnership working have clearly played a part in this and we will continue to develop these.
Our efforts in making sure Cardiff is safe have been higher in the last year than ever before and there is still work to do through the Cardiff Business Crime Reduction Partnership, the Women’s Safety Network, the Safe Places scheme and City Net radio scheme in order to get them to the standards we want and businesses and expect.
The last 12 months have never been dull and times are tough. We are determined to support businesses in whichever way they need it and I know that we can help you in the next 12 months through a variety of exciting projects.
We have remained agile and haven’t rushed into delivering for the sake of it. There are some slow burners (our desire to work in partnership to improve the state of the Newport Road railway bridge is a good example) which we must get right and ensure that other contribute as well.
Busy, varied, tough? – yes. Here for you? – always.