What can the Chamber do for me?
As a Chamber Board of Directors, we represent a wide variety of micro, small, medium and large Members from construction, professional services, marketing, printing, administration, retail, IT and the motor industry to make sure the Board remains representative of the Membership.
We meet regularly to discuss activity and this is passed on to the Members by the Directors who attend our many networking events. We also prepare a business plan to analyse our membership mix and plan activity for the benefit of the Members.
We talk to our members and have been given feedback that Public Sector Procurement is an issue. The Directors have done a great deal of work on this. As a result we have held meetings with East Sussex County Council Head of Procurement, Laura Langstaff to lobby for a better process to allow SMEs to win public sector contracts more easily. We also arranged for Laura to speak at our Best4Biz Conference in October. This was a great opportunity to meet the East Sussex procurement team and find out how supply processes are being simplified for SMEs.
We hold Research Meetings with Members to discuss developments from time to time. For example, when we rebranded the Chamber to bring it up to date and attract younger members we involved a broad selection of Members and non-members in the discussions from different sectors and of different sizes.
Our Networking Events are of real value to our Members. Between the Chamber and Edeal we arrange almost 200 different events during the year to promote business in East Sussex, including a wide variety of networking meetings. Have you been able to attend any of the ACES networking events we organised last year to meet Chamber Members from right across the County?
As you know, the main benefit to networking is to share problems and best practice and learn from other Chamber Members in a friendly and supportive environment, so we arrange meetings from 20 people up to 200 at various times of the day to suit each Member.
In addition to networking, we also offer Business Support like free HR advice, business mentoring and one to ones. We run these in Crowborough, Uckfield, Heathfield and Hailsham as well as in Eastbourne. We publicise these Clinics and Start-Up Workshops in magazines, in the Herald, at the Job Centre and via this link to the ACES website .
We have emailed news about Gatwick Airport to Members regularly and have written to the Airport Commission on behalf of ACES Chambers to support Gatwick’s second runway as we believe this will bring real growth to the local economy, along with over 100,000 jobs.
If you are thinking of Expanding Your Business and would like support to find the best way forward, Edeal can help by providing an independent business adviser free of charge to help you make an informed decision.
We can also arrange up to two hours Free HR Advice to decide the best way to employ additional staff or talk to you about apprenticeships and work experience programmes to allow you to expand at minimum cost.
We are also working on a Business Loans Programme which we hope to announce in June. Many Members report that they still find it hard to arrange funding via their banks and so we are planning a fund to loan between £5,000 and £20,000 to small businesses repayable over a 3 year period. This will be an “evergreen fund” that we will recycle to offer help to small businesses for many years to come.
We help Members with writing and placing Press Releases to promote their business. We can place these articles in business publications and lifestyle magazines across the County on ACES and Eastbourne Chamber pages. We write the editorial and can promote your news here – absolutely free of charge! Purchasing this editorial would run into hundreds of pounds but is free to our Members.
For our Retail Members we are working on several projects to help promote the town centre. We are still working on improving Christmas Lights and introducing a German style market to the town centre in the build up to Christmas. We introduced a “switch on” event last year and welcomed almost 1,000 people into the town centre on the first late night shopping evening of the Christmas period. We also run the Eastbourne Borough Market to encourage visitors to the quieter parts of the town on Wednesdays and Sundays.
We work closely with the Town Team to promote the shops at Christmas via HoHoHo magazine and all year via a series of other projects including a coffee festival, Airbourne greeters, street signage project, advertising banners, markets and Edible Eastbourne hanging baskets and planters.
We have been working with Eastbourne Can, the Town Team and various other local groups to push for improvements to the Town Transport Infrastructure. As a result of this East Sussex County Council are implementing a review of the traffic system in the town centre and we are hoping to enable a plan to reduce car traffic and make it more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, yet retain access for deliveries and essential services. The idea is to accommodate car-borne visitors without letting cars dominate the shopping streets so that the town centre becomes an even more attractive place to visit and shop.
We support Local Restaurants, Pubs and Hotel Members by bringing our other Members to a variety of events at their premises throughout the year.
Many of our retail and hospitality Members have fed back the damage done to the Eastbourne visitor economy by Street Drinkers and Rough Sleepers and so we are working on a project to help them off the streets. To achieve this we are working with the local Police, Council, Housing Associations, Salvation Army and mental and general health professionals. We are also working with “A Band of Brothers” to help the street community and young offenders climb out of the cycle of crime. Getting the Police to move them on is not the answer so we need to find a better way of helping them.
The Chamber has played a prominent part in the A27 Campaign . We have attended several of the DfT Feasibility Study meetings, met with the Secretary of State for Transport several times, including recently at Eastbourne Town Hall and Chamber President Mark McFadden has written several letters to the Eastbourne Herald setting out the Chamber’s view and they are fully reported on the A27 Chamber Web Page.
We have also been lobbying hard on this on behalf of ACES and we have been liaising with Stephen Lloyd MP, Councillor Caroline Ansell, EBC and ESCC to push for improvements. As no specific routes have yet been put forward by the DfT there are no plans to show; this has been done on purpose by the DfT because as soon as someone draws a line on a map, many people assume it is definitive and ask why they have not been consulted.
Follow this link for Funding Information or talk to us in the Chamber office on 01323 641144. Government funding changes all the time so we maintain the latest links via our web site to help you find the right funding for your business.
If you would like to know more about some of the projects highlighted above or have any question about your business, please call us on 01323 641144.
We are here to help.
Eastbourne unLtd is the largest town Chamber in South East and provides fully funded business support, mentoring, best practice and business advice. Encourage your business network to join us for the best business networking in East Sussex.