Hello 2021 & Goodbye 2020!
By Anita Bellinger who is BID Manager for inSwindon BID which supports businesses in and around the town centre.
As the year starts to turn – how are you feeling about 2021?
At inSwindon BID we are feeling really positive about 2021. Despite the challenges we have all faced in 2020, we have built a solid foundation that we hope to build upon.
We have been so impressed with how the community has come together during the pandemic. The support has been so inspiring, we have all become much closer and in 2021 we believe we will all progress stronger together.
What are your business goals for the coming year?
As a new team we will be listening carefully to our businesses and stakeholders. Our plans and goals will be based on what they tell us they would like us to do and what support they need. We have embraced the changes Covid-19 have brought so far and will carry on doing so, and we will implement a strong and considered strategy that reflects that. Providing a clean, green, attractive, and creatively promoted town centre.
As we continue to meet the needs of the businesses and stakeholders, we will be enhancing what we are doing by helping to give the town centre an identity. In partnership with Swindon Borough Council, multiple external agents, and stakeholders we will be working to create a fresh, clear identity that determines what Swindon will look like moving forward, and giving a collective voice to the wider vision.
Will you be introducing any new products or services? If so, please share some details.
We have recently launched our Commercial Property page on the Swindon Town Centre website that is used as a signpost for businesses to find commercial property for new or developing businesses. This is a great opportunity for businesses to use our connections through the platform to find the perfect premises.
There is clearly a demand for new business premises as we saw 18 wonderful new businesses open between June and October.
2021 will see the introduction of ‘cluster meetings’ with the aim to strengthen different services sectors such as hospitality, retail and business. Through collaboration in targeted sectors, we can work together to strengthen Swindon Town Centre’s overall proposition.
We will also be increasing our engagement with our BID members to provide training in marketing, use of the radios and other services that will support their business and help them to thrive.
We’re excited for 2021 as we have a new campaign ready to launch in the new year which not only has longevity and collaboration with businesses in the town centre, but will also engage the community outside of the town centre. We will be ready to launch in the new year so watch this space…
Looking back across 2020 – name three highlights.
1. The first highlight must be how amazingly well the businesses in the town centre have rallied together through this unprecedented time to survive this pandemic during the lockdown restrictions we’ve faced – a credit to those businesses.
2. Our second highlight is Swindon’s Illumina 2020 and our virtual lights switch on. We are the second town nationally who was able to turn the live event into a virtual event to ensure we launched this important period with a clear message. The event was held at the beginning of October with the aim of maximising spending time for the businesses for the festive period. With a second lockdown, it was even more fortuitous that we launched Christmas early. It was very much appreciated by the businesses in the town centre that the opportunity was there.
3. And our third highlight is how the local Swindon community has rallied together. Despite this second lockdown, businesses are communicating with us to push the golden quarter as they continue to rise to the challenges faced. And the Swindon community is right there behind them as they continue to support our town centre businesses. We can see this by the engagement through our social media and from our Ambassadors who have kept a visual presence in the town centre supporting our visitors.
Looking back across 2020 – were there any lowlights? How did you face them?
Of course, there have been some lowlights, it has been an incredibly difficult year for us all, but we must remember our highlights. I mentioned earlier that we have welcomed 18 new businesses since the first lockdown and the Swindon community has collaborated to help these businesses set up during a challenging time.
For ourselves, we have continued to build upon our relationships with local authorities such as Wiltshire Police and Swindon Borough Council to ensure our businesses and visitors have remained safe. We have been out in the town, providing tape for social distancing and banners across the town with clear health and safety guidelines. As well as promoting #ShopLocal.
We have tried to keep morale high and we have achieved this through our #ShineOnSwindon campaign that was launched in June to welcome businesses back as we reopened from the initial lockdown. You will see stars throughout the town as we continue to put a shine on our town centre because…together we can.
Who, in your business community – have been the shining stars of 2020?
This is such a lovely question for me because we have recently launched our monthly #ShineOnSwindon Star of the Month in our Community Newsletter. So here are our first three stars…
1. Swindon Borough Council. Why? Because they worked so hard with us to help us bring the town centre lights switch on forward. An event normally held in November; the team were out there in September installing these lights for us to launch the festive season early.
2. Wiltshire Police. They continue to work closely with us, to help keep our town centre a safe place for both our businesses and our visitors.
3. Swindon Buses and Stagecoach. A credit to our local bus companies who have worked throughout the year to support key workers by keeping routes open during the pandemic and put the necessary measures in place to bring visitors back into the town centre safely. We’re now working with them to see what can be done to support our impending 8 till 8 campaign where businesses will be extending shopping hours on the final lead-up to Christmas.
How brilliant the businesses have been, they have been the real stars of this year by persevering during a year like no other, and 2021 we will be stronger together.
For more information visit www.swindontowncentre.co.uk