Improving Wimbledon's Economy Over Breakfast

Local forum talks about business plans

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Developing the local economy was the theme of a recent breakfast forum in Wimbledon, which attracted representatives from dozens of local businesses.

Brian Hodge, from Merton Borough Council, discussed the council's economic development programme for 2011-2014.

Mr Hodge, the council's economic regeneration team leader, said: "SW19 is the centre of the world for two weeks every year, but what benefit does it give to the local economy?"

He highlighted initiatives in the council's programme to promote and grow new businesses - including the Merton Business Loan Fund and the Merton Means Business support service.

He said the programme includes the development and improvement of business space. The current vacancy rate for empty buildings in Wimbledon is now only 2%, he added.

"While a number of businesses are changing there is still a continuing want for businesses to come into Wimbledon," he said.

The programme also involves town centre initiatives in Colliers Wood, work with local training centres and creating a Merton Business Directory.

The meeting, on Wednesday January 19 at Piaf on Wimbledon Hill Road, was chaired by Diana Sterck (left), Chief Executive of Merton Chamber of Commerce, and earlier she said plans to have a Business Improvement District in place in Wimbledon in 2012 were progressing.

The creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) would allow local companies to have a say in which additional services should receive investment. There would be a BID levy paid into the scheme by local businesses.

The next Wimbledon Business Forum will focus on the Olympics and takes place at San Lorenzo in Wimbledon Hill Road at 9.30am on Wednesday March 9.

January 20, 2011