19 Feb 2018
By Jim McHarg, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce’s new president
As the new president of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, I will be standing on the shoulders of many giants from the last 235 years.
One aspect of the Chamber of which I am acutely aware is how close to the heart of the city it sits, working on behalf of our members to help make Glasgow the very best place for entrepreneurs to establish and grow a business. I want to retain that position.
So what are my priorities for doing that?
We have listened closely to our members and to the positive story they have told us about our Chamber. We have been told that we are highly valued and that we do make a difference.
Over the next two years I will support our chief executive Stuart Patrick and his excellent Chamber team in bringing in a fresh wave of new members. I want that new generation of members to be as diverse as our city, representing all sizes, ages, sectors, different stage businesses and communities – and I especially want to encourage the entrepreneurs amongst them.
We want to see growth in Glasgow’s economy. We have strategic relationships that we will aim to strengthen with the City Council and its arm’s length organisations, with Developing the Young Workforce and with Zero Waste Scotland.
In the year ahead we will be making a special effort to promote Glasgow as a circular economy, helping to make the city a world leader and involving as many of our SME members as we can. Innovative entrepreneurs will play a big part in that.
We will be making our case to the national Developing the Young Workforce board for another three years of funding support so that we can grow our impact on career opportunities for the young. We have skills shortages in Glasgow and we want to help tackle them.
This has implications for entrepreneurial spirit, and we need people of all ages having all the skills to start and run their own successful companies.
We will be placing a strong emphasis on the relationship with the new City Government, supporting its aspirations for a growing, inclusive economy and plans for giving more weight to the implementation of the Glasgow Economic Strategy via the Glasgow Economic Leadership and the Glasgow Partnership for Economic Growth.
We will also take our place on the Connectivity Commission, providing constructive input in shaping recommendations that will influence how our city centre is improved in the years ahead.
We will continue our work to connect members to export markets as demand and funding allow.
I am keen to have our new policy forums up and running in the early months of 2018. We want these to shape the Chamber’s agenda – identifying the issues that the Chamber should be tackling with all levels of government.
Glasgow Chamber has a long and bold history, and as a Glaswegian who was born, raised, educated and has spent all his working life in this great city, I am very excited by the future.
Entrepreneurship is an important part of that future, and one that this Chamber has always enthusiastically supported.
We have plenty of members who are entrepreneurs – including such as Andrew Duncan at mobile and web technology company SwarmOnline, Laura Birrell at Sticky Heelz, whose product makes sure your high heels never slip off, Andrew Dobbie at branding agency MadeBrave, Mark Hazell of beer JawBrew, who brewed beer using Auld Bakery’s excess rolls - and too many more to mention here.
Our monthly Glasgow Talks series has its next event on February 27 about Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences – an important sector for Glasgow, and one in which entrepreneurs can flourish. We’ll hear from Florida-based Chris Hillier, a former professor at Glasgow Caledonian University, now CEO of Angry Health and Scientific Advisor of GuideWell, a not-for-profit mutual holding company that is the parent to a family of forward-thinking companies which are focused on transforming health care.
The Glasgow Business Awards in October, run by the Chamber, has as one of its categories The Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which recognises the most inspiring, dynamic and driven leader. Current holder of the title is Uisdean Fraser, managing director of energy engineering firm Synergie Environ.
Entrants must show how they have overcome challenges to grow their successful business and how they have achieved this through risk taking, resilience, identification of opportunity, passion, commitment, market knowledge, innovation and inspiring and motivating their team with all the virtues that make up an entrepreneur.
The Chamber also administrates the Watson Foundation Fund, which was established following the gift of £100,000 in 2016 from entrepreneur John Watson, founder and former owner of John Watson and Co. John became a global player in the printing of high quality labels for the drinks industry in general and Scotch whisky industry while competitors fell by the wayside in a difficult time for the industry.
Chamber members and organisations across the west of Scotland can apply for a loan from the Fund - between £5,000 and £10,000 to help develop their business goals and achieve their growth ambitions.
Entrepreneurship is what made Glasgow great, and it will always be at the heart of Glasgow Chamber’s agenda.