I was humbled to be invited to take the helm at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce following Rob Johnston’s retirement in December. Not least because of the opportunity to do more to support you as businesses in this county I’ve now called home for almost 30 years.
But what strange times we find ourselves in.
It’s almost a year since we created our Coronavirus Toolkit to help businesses plan for disruption caused by a new virus from China.
At that point none of us realised just how much damage Covid-19 would cause.
Since then the toolkit has been accessed by more than 12,000 businesses seeking guidance on safe working, Covid restrictions and grant support. We update it almost every day so keep checking for the latest information.
Likewise, our Business Beyond Brexit Toolkit helps Cumbrian businesses adapt to Britain’s new relationship with the EU. There’s information on customs arrangements and rules of origin for those that trade with the EU and on the new arrangements for recruiting and retaining EU workers.
Both these toolkits are tangible examples of how the Chamber helps businesses to navigate times of crisis and transition.
And while they’re free for any business to use, there’s a lot more we can do for businesses that become Chamber members.
You can access a hotline with advice on HR, health and safety, legal, tax and VAT issues, legal expense insurance, healthcare insurance, a range of financial services including deposits and foreign exchange, and our new directors’ club.
The Chamber is also lead partner in Cumbria Business Growth Hub, which draws funding from various sources to help Cumbrian businesses grow and prosper. Much of this support is free if you meet the eligibility criteria.
Growth Hub advisers have been invaluable to many businesses during the pandemic, helping them to pivot online or develop new products or new routes to market. Again, do take a look at what we can offer.
As I write this, the Covid vaccination programme is rolling out, giving us cautious optimism that a return to some sort of normality is possible in 2021.
But whatever the future holds, you can be sure that the Chamber and Growth Hub will be here to support your business.
If you need our help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to working constructively with you in the years ahead.