2016. Let’s make it Norfolk’s year!

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce


Suddenly it’s December! Tradition demands that I use this month’s column to look back at the year, and comment on what lies ahead for 2016. The current situation means that the annual discipline has seldom come at a more pivotal time.

2015 saw our region reflect the national picture, showing, as I’ve frequently commented during the year, some really positive economic signs and significant reasons to believe that we were in a post-recession economy.

Putting that in context, I’ve also commented in this column about the gap between manifesto promises and practical delivery. Where those gaps show in our area is the continued need for us to fight our corner for better broadband, better infrastructure and heightened awareness of the skills gap, which in turn leads to the focus needed on bridging the gap between education and business.

If we look at the overall picture it is of course salutary to consider the political events that have brought so much terror and fear to the world during 2015. It would be churlish to suggest that they don’t put commercial concerns into perspective. It would though be naive to overlook the fact that increased levels of international threat have a direct impact on business.

Domestically, and working against such a stark backdrop, we’ve seen the government deliver what can only be described as ‘unexpected’ pyrotechnics in budgetary statements. Some measures are hard wired directly into business. Others, aimed at the consumer, will have an effect on spending power which indirectly and eventually affects the bottom line.

Our county’s businesses have a long and proud track record of not only withstanding the challenges of a changing world, but also consistently delivering innovation and success - come what may.

I’ve been reminded of that during this year more than any, because in the lead up to Norfolk Chamber celebrating our 120th anniversary in 2016 I’ve had the opportunity to look at our archives and seen how the Chamber has been instrumental in key decisions affecting Norfolk.

As we get into 2016 we will be taking a look over our shoulder, and celebrating achievements over the past 120 years. But with our characteristic attitude, we will like our members, be looking much more to the future. 

This will be a time to take the positives from the last twelve months and build on them. It will be a time to focus on that most important element in our future - our young people. Engaging and enthusing them has never been more important.

Engaging with each other will be essential for our region’s businesses too. Forging ever stronger links in our supply chains, actively meeting, exchanging views and ideas and ‘doing business’ are the real drivers of commerce. Our businesses must also speak with one voice to make sure that Norfolk is heard. There has been much talk of a Northern Powerhouse. Given the right support we can unleash to potential of the Eastern Dynamo that is Norfolk.

We wish you every happiness in the coming season and every success for 2016.

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