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Home / News / In My View: Is there still a need for Chambers of Commerce
Home / News / In My View: Is there still a need for Chambers of Commerce

In My View: Is there still a need for Chambers of Commerce

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Published 15:41 on 31 Jan 2022

Paul Rolfe, Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Group Director responsible for Stakeholder Engagement at the Chichester College Group.

I've been a member of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry for many years and am proud to have recently been elected as Chair. Determined to do the role justice I set out a mandate to have conversations with as many members as possible to understand their key challenges and how our Chamber can support them. Through conversations at our monthly members meetings, business breakfasts and networking events, the conclusion I have reached is that the focus for many local business leaders for 2022 remains "survival".

Our local businesses must navigate an ever-complex environment of COVID restrictions, staffing shortages and BREXIT red tape as well as new technologies and automation. Change seems to be happening quicker, having greater and more wide-ranging impact than ever before.

A key aspect business leaders tell me they need is having safe spaces to have face to face discussions in a supportive manner and non-judgmental environment. I can't help but think that this may be linked to the growing need of supporting mental wellbeing. I recently read a report suggesting that over 42% of business leaders in the last two years have suffered with mental health issues exasperated by the affects the pandemic has had on their business. This is quite shocking but not surprising.

Business leaders tell me they need opportunities to openly share ideas, contribute to a peer support network and dare I say it, also let off steam and have some fun; this was clearly evident at a recent member's event hosted at Rume2 at which owners Rosie and Lucy devised some amazing, engaging and fun activities. Laughter was heard from all corners of their flexible workspace.

From my own observations as well, I've seen businesses use the Chamber to refer opportunities to each other, make relevant introductions, share expertise and benefit from this critical support network.

Our new season of events will be released shortly, with a big focus on social engagement with gin tastings, boat trips, hands-on experiences as well as members meetings and lively business breakfasts hosted at the college, the events will continue to evolve as we glean feedback from members.

I can only conclude that Chambers of Commerce are more important than ever. I am keen that our Chamber continues to evolve to meet its members needs and that we do this with open dialogue and active engagement.

Last updated 13:42 on 11 May 2022

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