Nottingham Partners Event – COVID-19 Business Recovery Planning

Nottingham Partners hosted our second online event today (Friday 5th June) to discuss COVID-19 Business Recovery Planning. The meeting was hosted by Marketing NG chairman Paul Southby and featured panellists:

  • Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre at Nottingham City Council
  • Lucy Stanford, BID Manager at Nottingham Business Improvement District
  • Andy Wills, Director of Data Insight at Experian.

Paul opened the meeting by introducing the topic of business recovery and commended the city of Nottingham on how well we have tackled the COVID-19 outbreak so far. Paul then introduced the first speaker, Cllr Sam Webster.

Cllr Webster began his talk by speaking on how COVID-19 has impacted the city so far. He mentioned the effect it has had on unemployment and stated that Nottingham City Council is focusing on getting those people back into work in sectors that are growing and by retraining them. The East Midlands is the region with the highest UK short term impact from COVID-19 and Webster stressed how they need to ensure government planning needs to focus on those areas highly impacted such as ours.

Cllr Webster discussed Nottingham’s reliance on public transport, although a positive in many ways, including the city’s plan to be green by 2028, it is going to cause problems whilst social distancing is in place.

Cllr Webster is under no illusion that it will take businesses a long time to return to any sort of normality and acknowledges that now is a crucial time to be lobbying the government on behalf of those struggling businesses for additional financial support.

Nottingham City Council has so far provided and obtained the following:

  • £48m of grants to small and retail businesses
  • £2.4m for roadway, walking and cycling improvements
  • £294k for Opening High Streets in collaboration with Nottingham BID
  • £161m Transforming Cities Fund jointly with Derby
  • £17m bid to government for Future High Streets

Nottingham City Council has also recently established the Nottingham Economic Recovery Unit and Board which has brought different sectors and areas within the council to work together to look at the economic recovery of the city. The unit will also be a great way to lobby the government. Cllr Webster states that cities and investment in those cities are the key to economic recovery for the whole country.

Cllr Webster acknowledges that work on the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre has been halted but says it is important to remember many other developments around the city including the HMRC building, the Castle, Nottingham College, the latest announcement of the Guildhall building, and the Island Quarter are progressing well and are certain to happen.

Lucy Stanford, the BID Manager at the Nottingham Business Improvement District then goes on to talk about their response to COVID-19 and how the BID is working closely with Nottingham City Council to reopen the city. They are focussing primarily on providing the non-essential shops that are due to open on 15th June with the items they need to implement social distancing measures. This includes PPE for staff and floor stickers to guide customers.

Following the reopening of non-essential shops, the BID will then shift their focus onto the re-opening of Nottingham for visitors and making people feel comfortable to return to the city. Lucy mentioned that alongside Nottingham City Council, they are trialling a keep left system for pedestrians to ensure social distancing for all residents and visitors. Lucy also mentions how some pedestrianised streets may become one way.

The BID is providing HR and Employment Law training to businesses within their district. Please go get in touch with them if you qualify and may find this useful.

Andy Wills, Director of Data Insight at Experian opens his talk about how Experian are using their data to respond to COVID-19 and other measures the company has taken. Andy acknowledged that we are likely to face a heavy downturn in the economy and it is important to prepare your business for this.

Experian themselves, like most other companies, are prioritising the safety and wellbeing of their staff, taking measures to look after both their mental and physical health. Andy mentioned that Experian is hoping to slowly reopen their offices from July. Andy stated how the need for high-grade technology has been essential in allowing large companies like Experian to have a smooth transition from office-based to home-based working.

Andy stresses there has never been a more important time to understand your market in your sector and wider scale. It is crucial to talk to your customers and react and modify to change. He says to moderate your offerings to meet customer needs. Andy explains why priorities are so crucial. For example, Experian’s key priority was to protect people’s jobs.

Andy then moves on to talk about the change in office space that is taking place across all sectors. Many businesses have found working from home to be successful and their large office spaces are no longer needed, Experian included. He says there will be a change in investment importance, shifting from property and office space to high-grade technology.

Andy then finished his talk by saying that by using the data available to you, you can analyse it and find the answer to many of those important questions he raised.

Thank you to everyone who joined the meeting. Nottingham Partners look forward to hosting more useful, online updates and discussions soon.