Initial results of our ongoing investigation into the needs of business right across our community
And an indication of what might happen next...
Marlow is home to well over a thousand businesses. 236 different companies inhabit the physical walls of our Town Centre, with many more located in Globe Park, the Business Centres - and in the houses of residents working from their back rooms or various out buildings. In other words, the Town houses a thriving business community.
Or, at least, it was. Covid-19 means 2020 has brought every one of you a set of unique and unprecedented challenges. And a need for some level of support as you try to adapt and move on, despite them.
Over the past months, a range of different schemes were proposed to support business. Central Government offered (some) financial support, local councils helped businesses take advantage, and for the hardest hit sectors - retail and hospitality - on-street schemes and one-way systems were introduced to try and maximise footfall, safely and in adherence with social distancing.
Alongside, residents also came up with their own options. Ideas were offered, petitions were raised, events were proposed. The community response was extremely positive - everyone wanted to help.
Getting a range of opinions
The Chamber of Trade and Commerce is here to represent the views of its members, and to help you build on that very positive relationship between local business and the community. What we wanted to do, therefore, was talk to as many businesses as possible and find out which of the ideas being proposed would help most. And where, and in what priority order could various resources be best targeted.
The result has been the issue of two surveys, one as offices and high street venues were finally given permission to re-open, and a second last month as guidelines began to (so we thought) become clearer. Thank you VERY MUCH to all of you who have (so far) taken part. The feedback you are providing is invaluable, and helping us build a valuable picture of the diversity of all your needs.
More of what we now plan to do with that information is below. First, however, many of you may not yet have seen all of that feedback or understand where your own needs sit relative to others. Here, then, are the results to date...
(Note: the images link to downloadable pdfs).
If you haven't told us what you think yet we want to hear from as many businesses as possible - the more the merrier. So please...
Part of the deal in asking you for this feedback was to make sure various interested parties - including both Marlow Town Council and Buckinghamshire Council - understood what you were asking. And that we then start to make some of the ideas become reality.
Part of the challenge is that the logistics behind the many different ideas vary enormously. Parking suspension, for example, sounds easy - but it both divides opinion (see June 2020) and is difficult to organise. Other ideas, however, proved both widely popular and, thankfully, are more straightforward.
Three ideas, in particular, have received very positive responses from over 75% of those who have taken part:
An active 'Buy Local' campaign
A 'Welcome to Marlow' visitors and community mobile app
A parking refund scheme
The last of these requires input from Councils, most importantly Buckinghamshire as they are responsible for all our town centre car parks. We (the Chamber) have no budget for, nor any sway over the charging of parking fees. But we do know that the practicalities of how a refund might work are being looked into.
The idea of a Marlow app, on the other hand, is very exciting - and is something that, working together, we can all influence. Propositions are actively being researched and thoughts solicited on how that might work. Such a big development, however, will take some time. Even if we could find a suitable solution 'off the shelf', the set up work will take us well into 2021.
Watch this space.
🎄 Make it a Marlow Christmas 🎄
What we are able to do, however, is coordinate a 'Buy Local' campaign. 'Make it a Marlow Christmas' is therefore already now being seriously discussed and some ideas being put forward, both by ourselves and by other organisations. The plan is to start talking about it within just the next week or so - and be in full promotional mode somewhere between early and mid-November.
The campaign will
highlight the benefits of shopping locally
highlight the diversity of businesses we have in Marlow (on and off the High Street)
encourage footfall into the Town through a series of Covid-friendly 'competitions'
enable participants to promote and be promoted via our social media feeds and website.
The first step to this is to find out who would like to take part. If you are interested, therefore, please make yourselves known - by completing the form below. And let's all help make this Christmas a Christmas that really brings the whole of Marlow together.
🎄 Make it a Marlow Christmas 🎄
Find out more and register your interest here...
Completion of this form means you are agreeing to receive emails from us related to the promotion of 'Make it a Marlow Christmas'. You can unsubscribe at any time.