Covid Edinburgh: Here’s what businesses are saying needs to happen for city’s recovery from pandemic


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The project also offered increased business support for culture and the arts, a comprehensive aviation strategy, and a gift / loyalty card program to help independent businesses and hospitality businesses.

And he called for increased investment in skills, reform of corporate tariffs, promotion of foreign investment, and streamlining of the planning process, all in the interest of helping businesses grow and develop. to create jobs.

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The manifesto is supported by 60 organizations including banks, universities, festivals and large companies

The manifesto is supported by 60 organizations including banks, universities, festivals and large companies

The manifesto was produced by the Edinburgh Business Resilience Group, made up of more than 60 organizations from the business, social and private sectors, brought together by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

Among those who helped put together the Prospectus for Growth were Charles Hammond, CEO of Forth Ports; Audrey Cumberford, Principal of Edinburgh College; Les Bayne, former Managing Director of Accenture Scotland, now Alba Arete; Buster Howes, CEO of Edinburgh Military Tattoo: and Peter Mathieson, Director of the University of Edinburgh.

And other organizations that signed the manifesto include RBS, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Edinburgh Airport, LNER, Stagecoach, Edinburgh International Festival, the Tattoo, the Fringe, Harvey Nichols, PwC, Heriot-Watt University, Murray Estates and the St James Quarter.

The group calls for a “reset” of the relationship between companies and decision-makers and proposes the appointment of a “business champion” within the board’s management.

Ian Marchant is President of the Edinburgh Business Resilience Group

The manifesto read: “In our work, the only recurring theme that has emerged is that there seems to be a disconnect at this stage between business and policy makers at municipal and national levels. “

He said companies felt that policies on issues such as sustainability, inclusion and fair labor were prioritized over more immediate reopening decisions, and that policymakers were “too far removed” from the difficulties encountered. by many companies; while officials felt that they were doing all they could to help the recovery and that there was a need to better understand that public resources were depleted and that there had been dialogue with businesses throughout the pandemic.

The manifesto continued, “We need to bring a meeting of minds and points of view, increased trust and meaningful collaboration that will move the dial dramatically and create the kind of true partnership we need to recover and grow.”

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Liz McAreavey, CEO of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

Among the immediate priorities, the group has made an accelerated return to the workplace “with clear guidelines and appropriate support to enable companies to meet their obligations and help employees feel safe and secure. ‘ease’, which would bring life and energy back to the city center.

He also wants a review of the physical distancing rules and a better alignment of Covid policies in the four countries of the United Kingdom.

And he called for support for companies facing “stifling” debt levels after taking out loans to survive lockdowns.

The manifesto also proposed the creation of Edinburgh Means Business, a joint venture between city council, businesses, universities, the cultural sector and the third sector, which it described as “a campaign for the recovery that is turning into a body. potentially hosted by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce “as a one stop shop for the support and promotion of businesses in the city.

And to help reset the relationship between the public, private and third sectors, he called for the appointment of a business champion – who would also co-chair Edinburgh Means Business – reporting to the chief executive of City Council, for an initial period of 12 months to support reopening of businesses.

Ian Marchant, Dunelm Energy, who chairs the Edinburgh Business Resilience Group, said: “Edinburgh’s recovery efforts cannot become a tale of two cities – our own narrative divided between long-term political aspirations and current needs of businesses and organizations which should create the jobs and opportunities of the future.

“As we continue to emerge from the pandemic through the successful deployment of immunization, the economy must now be the top priority of our political leaders.”

The former managing director of utilities giant Scottish and Southern Energy added: ‘We need businesses to succeed and grow if we are to create jobs and opportunities for our citizens, if we are to encourage a zero carbon transition. net, and if we want to fight poverty through greater social inclusion.

“To achieve these goals, we need successful businesses. To have successful businesses, we need policies that encourage growth. We believe that by bringing a business perspective to the table and harnessing the expertise and energy that our businesses have to offer, we can work with local and national governments to ensure a better and stronger recovery. But we need them to listen and we need them to engage.

Among the manifesto’s specific initiatives were Edinburgh Rewards Local, a gift card and loyalty program, jointly sponsored by city council and the private sector, for independent retailers and hotel businesses that would reward both locals and visitors. who pass through Edinburgh, attracting people to the city center and helping to protect jobs and employment opportunities.

He also called for a strategy to support the entrepreneurial talents of under-represented groups to encourage diversity in business ownership.

The group said the city’s businesses need to do more to support live events, the culture and tourism sector – and it offered examples such as subsidized tickets for staff, funding of events in open air in the city center and small downtown rooms in empty stores or unused offices.

And he proposed a “common and coherent brand image” to enable the main players to effectively sell the city.

He said foreign investment would be key to Edinburgh’s recovery. “The city needs to align with the Scottish government’s inbound investment strategy – we need to double our existing strengths as a city to attract new investment.”

The manifesto noted that Edinburgh Airport, which had been a major engine for international trade, saw passenger numbers drop to 1995 levels during. “As a city (and nation), we need a comprehensive aviation strategy. International affairs are vital for both Scotland and Edinburgh, which serves as a gateway to the rest of the country. Liz McAreavey, Managing Director of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “We were delighted with the exceptional quality of those who participated in all of the meetings and conversations that fueled the production of the Growth Prospectus.

“We are now seeking engagement with the Scottish Government, UK Government and City Council to see how we could work together in the most productive way to deliver what is best for the city.”

“One of the biggest cities in the world”

The manifesto makes it clear that Edinburgh has a lot to offer.

“We are a city with the best educated workforce in the UK, a thriving tech sector and at one point named Best City for Start-ups in the UK,” the document said.

“As a city, we have a lot to celebrate and be proud of. “

Among the highlights, he notes:

• The University of Edinburgh is one of the top 20 universities in the world

• The capital is home to eleven festivals

• It is the second most visited city in the UK

• Before the pandemic, Edinburgh was the fastest growing airport in Europe

• The City of Edinburgh region contributes almost 30% of the Scottish national economy

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the lives of citizens and businesses in Edinburgh, the manifesto says.

In 2020, downtown attendance fell by around 78% from its 2019 level.

Cultural and living festivals and events have been greatly reduced or have not taken place as we know them.

The city’s hospitality and tourism sector has effectively closed.

Edinburgh airport passenger numbers fell to 1995 levels.

Business failure levels are expected to increase.

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