The pace of potential change is picking up around Chamber’s initiatives as business, civil servants and politicians recognise that there is a tight timeframe ahead of next spring’s island-wide election.
The ‘to-do’ list is growing by the week with some major initiatives in our sights including the need to ensure that town remains vibrant and economically active and a focus on addressing the restrictive effect of the current Population Management Law for sectors such as retail and hospitality.
Chamber’s membership is growing substantially and we believe this is an indication of the effectiveness of the organisation’s industry groups which are manned by talented volunteers working hard on a hugely broad cross section of initiatives. These range from practical solutions to red tape issues that stifle or hamper business, to a new sustainability group with an important focus on Guernsey’s place in the world and how we can be an exemplar jurisdiction.
The election is a major event for the island as we move away from parochial/district representation to an entirely island-wide basis. Aside from the potential major implications of that, creating an entirely new system which works smoothly throughout our 25 square miles is a challenge in itself. We would encourage people here with good business experience to consider standing as a political representative. The job is challenging, the hours long and the visibility of the role can make post holders a prime target for harsh comments in social media or similar platforms. The up-side of becoming a States member is the chance to play a part in preparing the island for a successful, healthy and positive future in a world which continues to become ever-more global. The island needs outward-looking people who understand what business needs to be successful here and who will resist the urge to over-complicate the corporate environment with unnecessary legislation.
Whilst Chamber involves itself in island life beyond the business sector at times, we are not a political organisation and take care to stay within the parameters of representing membership views. When those views are strong and clear – as in the call for affordable air fares and a reliable ferry service – we engage with all parties and try to enable change for the better. With some 18,000 people under our membership umbrella (representing two thirds of the island’s working population), we take seriously our responsibility to be a force for good in the island. There are times when the issue is complex and widespread, requiring the specialist input of our volunteers in the industry groups. On other occasions, a solution can be found by simply bringing related parties together in our positive environment and enabling constructive dialogue to take place. As we approach the first anniversary of ‘New Chamber’ in the autumn, there are no egos at large: all we want is to be the glue that binds business and state sector seamlessly and effectively. As an independently-funded membership organisation, Chamber is uniquely placed to do that.
Ongoing projects include substantial support for cultural diplomacy and David Ummels’ Art for Guernsey initiative, calls for the island to invest in its infrastructure to ensure that our environment is as attractive and efficient as it could be, and active engagement with parties in Europe to try and capitalise on opportunities around the (most likely!) Brexit next month.
Added to the industry initiatives are a growing programme of events which are free to members and open to non-members for a small fee. We see these as a valuable way in which businesspeople can update themselves on relevant topics and, at the same time, mix with others as a way of acquiring new business and good insight into the relevant subjects. With more than 200 tickets sold in days for our January Annual Dinner and Ethical Business Awards, we hope that rapid and strong response amounts to a vote ‘yes’ for New Chamber!
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