The City of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry was launched on the 18th January at Guildhall with a speech from Deputy Keith Bottomley.
L to R: Deputy Keith Bottomley, Alderman Prem Goyal, and CEO Peter Burge.
Deputy Bottomley’s speech is available below.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the City of London Corporation, it’s a real pleasure to be with you.
At the outset, I’d like place on record my congratulations to you Richard, not just on this evening’s launch but on securing the services of one of our finest Alderman in the City – Prem Goyal as your Chair. Well done to all those who have worked so hard towards tonight’s launch.
It has, of course, been a hugely challenging couple of years for business – for all of us.
And this has been particularly acute in our capital, with a recent Centre for Cities report finding that London has suffered the biggest loss of high street sales anywhere in the country since the pandemic.
Over the last twelve months, Square Mile footfall has cautiously, but steadily increased to approximately three-quarters of 2019 activity.
But this encouraging local news is tempered by shocks to the national economy caused by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, supply chain struggles, and political turbulence.
It’s no surprise therefore that the Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2022 was ‘permacrisis’.
But there is, I think, a problem with defining 2022 as ‘permacrisis’…
… it suggests that we are resigned to the status quo, that our problems are entrenched, that we find ourselves in a hole so deep that we find it hard to work out how to escape.
The fact that we are gathered here defies any defeatism.
Tonight, we take an important step along the road to recovery with the launch of the City of London Chamber of Commerce.
If I may, there is one simple message that I would like you to takeaway this evening, one that Alderman Goyal has already touched upon: the power of collaboration to support business.
A united City is a strong City – it is that simple.
We know that the City’s history, its ethos, its character developed through collaboration and commerce over many centuries.
We see it not just in our friendships and partnerships this evening… we see it not just in our common dedication to a brighter future… but we see it built into the fabric – the bricks and mortar – all around us.
Just beneath our feet here at the Guildhall Art Gallery stand the remains of London’s only Roman amphitheatre.
Roman London – just as today – was, in the words of Roman historian Tacitus, ‘famous for its wealth of traders and commercial traffic’.
For two thousand years, the City has been built on the bonds of trade, commerce, and relationship that we want to continue building tonight.
And there has rarely been a more important time for us to support business and for business to support the wider economy in vital wealth and job creation.
And the City is a key driver, generating nearly £70bn of tax revenue annually from the financial and professional services sector.
Total jobs in the Square Mile increased to a record high total of over 587,000 in 2021 – up 38,000 on the previous year.
And all that output, all those jobs – which support lives and livelihoods across the length and breadth of the country – are underpinned by City’s 22,000 businesses.
99% of our Sq Mile businesses are SMEs – they are are vital part of our unique ecosystem, not least those that make up the important street scene.
At the City Corporation, we understand the vital role that SMEs play, which is why we supported businesses during the pandemic with the £50m Covid Business Recovery Fund, and which is why are supporting businesses with post-pandemic recovery through our bold Destination City initiative. We want to do more with SMEs, working collaboratively with partners through the development this year of our first SME strategy.
The work is being led by my fellow Common Councillor and Member lead for SMEs, Paul Singh. Thank you Paul for taking this important work forward.
We recognise that the pandemic has brought challenges for the City in terms of hybrid working and changing business models, but our desire to be the most attractive place to work, rest, and play – the best place for business to be – remains undiminished.
We want to attract more people back into the City, spending time and money here, but we also want to attract businesses here – that is what Destination City is all about…
Diversifying the City’s economic base, so that we are more resilient, more robust, and more resourceful in the future.
With the combination of excellent transport links, world-leading cultural sites, and a unique economic ecosystem, I believe we have the foundations to succeed.
But it is incumbent on all of us, the City Chamber of Commerce, the City of London Corporation, BIDs, Heart of the City, the livery companies, the GLA, and more, united in purpose, to achieve our goals.
So let us collaborate, co-operate, and build consensus for the good of all.
Because ultimately, our businesses will feel the benefit of us working together, building tomorrow’s City today.