In the past year, Swansea has routinely topped lists of the best places to start a business and, with a billion pounds of investment going on to secure a modern, well-functioning, attractive city centre, it is easy to see why.
We have seen a slew of start-ups investing in Swansea city centre across the retail, beauty, and food and drink industries during lockdown.
Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID's (Business Improvement District) chief executive, who has been operating in Swansea for 10 years, explains why the city centre is the place to be if you are looking for a vibrant home for your firm in a fast-growing, stable economy with steady footfall.
Swansea as a growing hotspot
The past year has been the most challenging businesses in Swansea city centre have ever seen. The effects of the pandemic will be felt for some time to come and it is important not to downplay the impact this has had upon our businesses.
But it is very noticeable that our BID area businesses have not only risen to the challenges of the pandemic – and we have been happy to support them in this – but that there is also a palpable sense of excitement in the city centre about the next chapter for Swansea.
Swansea is going through a £1bn renaissance at the moment with the Copr Bay Development taking shape swiftly. The new arena is hiring, and the golden bridge is spanning Oystermouth Road as a tangible sign of new things for the city centre.
There is also work going on apace on The Kingsway, in St David’s Square, in Wind Street and throughout the city centre.
Shoppers and visitors are making a gradual return to our city centre and they are seeing a brighter, more modern city centre with genuine investment being made to create a smart balance of retail, residential hospitality and more. This is proving to be an attractive offer for retail investors.
We are seeing smart thinking from developers, Swansea Council and its planners, and other stakeholders, including Swansea BID, to make sure the city centre works as a machine for supporting business and consumers while ensuring Swansea is a great place to be.
We are proud to have been at the heart of Swansea city centre’s story for the past 15 years and this past year has seen us redouble our efforts for our BID area businesses.
Here are some of the things we are happy to have delivered during our most recent term and, notably, during the pandemic:
Reducing business costs and helping the bottom line will always be a key focus. We have been happy to provide more than £565,000 in business and worker savings
Swansea BID has facilitated more than £300,000 in additional business grant support such as the outdoor adaption grant schemes for hospitality sector businesses.
During the pandemic, we provided more than 5,000 items of PPE to businesses.
We have 15-year relationships with many of the key decision-makers whose policies and choices affect our BID area businesses, so we were able to use these to influence and to lobby for business support, working very closely with the local authority, governments and national bodies, particularly when it came to business rates holidays and grant funding.
Clear and agile communication with businesses during the pandemic has been essential. We scaled up our communications, sharing updates from trusted sources, ensuring clear and concise messaging, and provided emergency support via phone and email, seven days a week. We ran and facilitated webinars to ensure businesses could ask local authority departments and industry experts for help.
We continue to invest in the Ranger service – our Rangers have covered 2,000 miles, dealt with more than 100,000 activities and visited our businesses more than 10,000 times over the past five years.
We invested in an additional 1,000 South Wales Police hours and provided Taxi and Night Marshals who deal with more than 500,000 visitors and thousands of incidents. These initiatives all play an essential part in reducing anti-social behaviour by an average of 22 per cent.
We provide free social media and digital marketing platforms – both via BID and our Big Heart of Swansea brand, helping our businesses reach millions of people. We have delivered year-round marketing campaigns that are being seen and heard by over six million people and we have supported and delivered more than 100 events – everything from the student shopping event to family-friendly Halloween and Christmas attractions, to online competitions to keep families engaged with businesses during lockdown.
Clearly, the past year has been an unusual one and we have all had to adjust what we do and what we are delivering in order to meet these very unusual circumstances. We hope the coming five years will see Swansea BID build on its successes and will see Swansea city centre thrive.
For more information about Swansea BID, visit www.swanseabid.co.uk