Posted by

Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce

26 Jan 2015

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of opening a letter from Ronan Quigley, the BCC’s Accreditation Director, to tell me that Wirral Chamber of Commerce had achieved BCC Accreditation. His letter came twelve months after we started our journey to become the best Chamber of Commerce in the country. 

We still have a way to go, but have a very ambitious but achievable business plan. Reflecting on our growth as a Chamber, I couldn’t have wished for a more successful start.  Our management team inherited a proud and established Chamber, but one that needed a fresh start to provide effective services and support that Wirral’s business community deserved.

Since then, our membership has grown from approximately 100 to 529 at the last count. This current figure is growing week-on-week and I’ve set my team an ambitious target to double this figure by the end of 2015. I know we’ll achieve it.

Our original team of team of seven has now grown to 29, and we have introduced a number of new business initiatives all designed to support business growth and economic prosperity for the area. We introduced the Training Hub, a dedicated training department delivering training to business both large and small, and we have become a delivery partner for the government’s flagship Start Up Loans Company scheme, making the Chamber one of only three organisations in the Liverpool City Region able to deliver this specialist service.

We will also be launching the Birkenhead Business Improvement District initiative which is a business led partnership and business funded scheme to improve a defined commercial area, such as a town or industrial centre through additional services or new initiatives.

Managed office space is the bedrock of our business model and during February the Chamber will be starting the £1m redevelopment of the £1m Pacific Road Arts Centre which will be transformed into high quality and flexible workspace. Once completed this will be our third business centre we will be running to accommodate both young and existing businesses.

Pacific Road is already 80% pre-let and it is our target to create more - ensuring we have five sites located around the borough, creating a turnover of £3.5m for the Chamber. It is from our progressive business model that through initiatives detailed earlier we will make a real and positive difference to Wirral’s economic growth. Growing businesses, creating employment and supporting investment are some of the important areas in which a modern, innovative and growing Wirral Chambers of Commerce can make a telling contribution.

Some suggested that when we first applied for BCC Accreditation it was ‘too soon’ and that perhaps we were being ‘too ambitious’. As one of only three accredited Chambers in the Liverpool City Region, and one of only 52 other Chambers with this prestigious status in the UK, I am proud of the progress that has been made, honoured to be recognised and delighted that we can offer benefits for our members that will make a real difference. 

The future of Wirral Chamber is bright, but we have only just begun. We will strive to be a positive, powerful and influential presence in Wirral and wider area. 

All views expressed in guest blogs are that of the authors, and not of the British Chambers of Commerce