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Goodbye to 2022: a reflection

What a year 2022 has been. Just as the UK was imagining life post-pandemic, we saw the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Then further political and economic toil at home – including two changes of prime minister. We also felt the deepening energy crisis and escalating costs of living. September brought the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Chris Hinson and Councillor Peter Hughes at Farley Fountain in West Bromwich - Urban Greening Project

Chris Hinson and Councillor Peter Hughes at Farley Fountain in West Bromwich

You don’t need us to tell you how these events have impacted on UK business. We hope you are giving yourself time to rest amid the perceived need to work harder and smarter to weather the storms. And we hope your business is doing well.

As we say goodbye to 2022, we share positivity from the Sandwell Business Ambassadors from the past twelve months.

New Sandwell Business Ambassadors

The Sandwell Business Ambassadors as a collective has grown in strength. In 2022 we welcomed three new Ambassadors: Lisa Nicholson from GMS Group, Sarah Onions from Sandwell College, and Lisa Hill from West Bromwich BID.

In June, we said good luck and thank you to Corin Crane, as he took up the CEO post at Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. Corin was supportive and enthusiastic as a Sandwell Business Ambassador. His advocacy for small businesses continues to inspire us.

We’re also proud of Paul Hull of KMB Shipping, one of our longest-serving Ambassadors. In October 2022, Paul was crowned Black Country Business Person of the Year at the Black Country Business Awards.

Thank you to all Ambassadors for committing to speak out for the Sandwell business community. Each of their unique perspectives enhances our work.

A return to in-person meetings

It has been a joy to hold meetings in person again, after Covid-19 confined us to screens for two years. Sarah Onions hosted us at Sandwell College in August and Brian Cape at the SIPS Education headquarters in November. Both were in West Bromwich.

For environmental and time-efficiency reasons, we intend now to hold two out of three of our meetings online. But the benefits of bouncing ideas around with people in the same room is undeniable. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve together in 2023.

At each monthly meeting, we’ve welcomed a guest speaker to tell us about something pertinent to the Black Country business community. This year it’s been great to hear from the Care Leaver Covenant, Repowering the Black Country, and more.

In September, it felt positive to meet the Commissioners for Sandwell Council. We learned about their work across the local authority and got their thoughts on how the council is doing.

Towns Fund successes in Sandwell

The government Towns Fund investment is a topic close to the hearts of the Sandwell Business Ambassadors. Chris Hinson, John Wood DL and our chair Alan Taylor are all on boards set up to ensure the regeneration investment brings the greatest possible impact to Sandwell. Sandwell has secured a total of £67.5m for Rowley Regis, Smethwick and West Bromwich.

In June 2022, we were delighted to hear that all sixteen of Sandwell’s Towns Fund proposals have been approved by central government.

We share Towns Fund updates on our dedicated page. Most recently, we looked at the Urban Greening Project in West Bromwich, with a star appearance from our Ambassador Chris.

Sharing resources and good news

We’ve continued work on our resources pages. These include a special page to help Black Country businesses make a successful application to the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and one to nurture good mental health in Sandwell workplaces.

Our most recent page encourages Sandwell businesses to go for public-sector contracts. It details places to seek business opportunities and tips for putting forward a strong tender response. If you find it useful, we’d love to hear about your successes.

We’ve also published articles to promote responsible business practice. In March we celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing thirteen ways to ‘Break the Bias’ that can hold women back.

Finally, under our #DoingBusinessBetter banner, we’ve encouraged Sandwell organisations to support Anti-Slavery Week 2022, Earth Day 2022, and more. We’ve also promoted tree-planting for the Queen’s Green Canopy programme.

Whether or however you celebrate Christmas, we wish you a happy and restful festive season with the people you love. We look forward to returning in 2023.

Ambassadors

The Ambassadors are a collective of business people in the Sandwell area with the aim of supporting the Sandwell Business Community.

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