Myself and James attended the Future of Business in Chester conference last week, hosted by Chester Business Club and supported by the Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester (amongst other leading groups). It was a really useful initiative to bring together various representatives from Chester’s businesses and organisations to thrash out 4 key, current topics;
- Enabling Business Growth
- Facilitating creativity & innovation
- Strengthening collaboration
- Attracting and retaining visitors and residents
With Chester being home to the likes of MBNA, Bristol Myers Squibb Ltd, one of the world’s leading zoo’s (attracting 1.4 million people each year) and a thriving university, Chester should be a hive of commerce, culture and creativity.
But questions were still being raised as to why shops and market stalls were closing down, why students were not staying after graduation and why Chester still has no cinema.
Common themes being discussed included;
- Car parking
- Changing the 9-5 mentality
- Redefining Chester’s identity
- Better connectivity to other big, North West cities Manchester and Liverpool.
Some thought-provoking and encouraging take-aways from the conference included:
. Extending the normal 9-5 shopping hours.
. Opening up empty buildings, spaces and closed shops to pop-ups, artists and start up enterprises.
. Reducing the cost of car parking to encourage people back to the city instead of to outlet shopping villages and other cities.
. Promoting Chester’s waterfront more
. Plans for a multi use exhibition centre to promote and encourage creativity; music, art, film.
. Establishing a new Chester group of key people
. Steering emphasis away from the Roman theme and introducing alternative heritage and history themes.
It was an interesting conference which highlighted a passion for the city and enthusiasm for seeing it prosper. Let’s hope it wasn’t in vain and we can now see some of these ideas turn into action plans. With so much support from business leaders, legal experts and creative entrepreneurs I don’t see why not! Watch this space….
Image courtesy of www.geograph.org.uk