Waveney Business Forum Coordinator – The WBF have recently secured the funds to support a project entitled Town Centre Growth and Business Sustainability which will look at implementing the recommendations from the Town Centre Study. Expression of interests were requested through the WBF for a person to support on this project and Christine Pinsent, the current Chair of Beccles Business and Tourism Association has been awarded the contract.  Christine has concentrated on scoping out the current structures of the business groups in the market towns of Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth and the Kirkley area of Lowestoft. Several of the groups have new members and committee members and Christine is supporting them with their new roles.

My Waveney – with funding and support from Waveney District Council and the East Suffolk Partnership, the WBF was delighted to support the My Waveney initiative, a scheme to help support and raise the profile of the districts independent businesses by encouraging consumers to ‘buy local’ both in terms of retail and services. From accountants to printers, builders and plumbers to hat shops, cafes and crafts; you will find great service and products in all of the towns across the area and the WBF want to showcase these.

Developed in partnership with the Economic Development Team at Waveney District Council, the idea of My Waveney came about as a result of discussions by members of the WBF who are always looking at ways in which to support local and independent businesses and increase footfall around the area. They have supported the national one day retail campaigns over a number of years like Small Business Saturday or Independents Day but agreed that by adopting a brand to support this all year round would give it a stronger focus and help to showcase the huge variety of businesses and retailers that Waveney has to offer. One of the projects they supported was the My Waveney membership card which encouraged businesses to offer a range of exclusive discounts and offers to customers. Alongside this ran a social media campaign highlighting the offers and showcasing different businesses.

The WBF are always looking at ways to use the My Waveney branding so if you have any ideas then please get in touch with us.

Funding Success – Through the Town Centre Growth and Business Sustainability project, funding has been secured to run a series of social media training sessions for businesses plus help support the employment of a resource to assist with administration/secretariat tasks for the four business groups of Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth and Kirkley. Members of the WBF have also secured funds to support a range of tourism and heritage projects and marketing activities.

East Suffolk Partnership – The WBF have been working with the East Suffolk Partnership (ESP) to ensure that the needs and desires of the Waveney businesses are taken into account particularly working closely with the Vibrant Economy task group. This has enabled a number of joint working activities to be progressed with businesses from the Suffolk Coastal area.  This has included support for the creation of the East Suffolk Business Association Network which has provided an opportunity to network with partner business association representatives from Suffolk Coastal as well as offers the chance for businesses to be engaged and give their views on how the partnership can move forward.  Through this a sum of funding has been secured to support the organisational development of the business associations across East Suffolk.

Waveney Town Centre Study – The WBF commissioned Dr Rebecca Ellis, a local researcher, to carry out a study of Waveney’s town centres and the factors that are affecting their success and viability. The WBF are using the findings to shape and inform their future activity to support their and local business communities (linked with the projects being progressed through the East Suffolk Partnership).

National Campaigns – WBF have supported the Small Business Saturday national campaign now for two years which sees small businesses working together to raise awareness of the importance of buying small and local.  It is traditionally held on the first Saturday of December, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  The WBF actively encourage its members to support and promote the scheme by offering promotions or organising events to encourage people to buy ‘small and local’ – both on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.  The campaign receives support from the local MPs as well as Suffolk and Waveney Councillors .  The WBF also encourgaed its members to support Independents Day, a national campaign that promotes and celebrates independent businesses across the UK.

Marketing – The WBF have financially supported the creation of websites for the business groups in Beccles, Bungay and Kirkley.

Partnership Working – The WBF realises that the tourism industry is one of the largest employment sectors within Waveney and that many of the activities the WBF are progressing could be carried out in partnership with the Tourism groups from the district.  The WBF has forged links with both the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation and colleagues in the Waveney Valley area to ensure that the areas tourism businesses continue to be supported and promoted whilst the current Visit Sunrise Coast brand is under review.

The Chair of the WBF has also forged links with the relevant counterparts in Suffolk Coastal which has allowed for the sharing of best practice, scoped out joint working opportunities and allowed the work of the ESP to be progressed using a ‘business led’ approach.

Waveney Business Voucher Scheme – The WBF worked with WDC and local enterprise agency NWES on the development of a pilot scheme to cover a gap in the provision of face to face local business support. The Voucher Scheme was aimed at new, start up and existing businesses and provided a voucher enabling them to access quality business advice, skills training and networking through NWES. A second phase of the scheme is now underway with the aim to target rural businesses.