Joe Manning of Marketing Cheshire supports Cheshire Life campaign
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:50 23 July 2020
Shop Cheshire and support local businesses say Marketing Cheshire Chief Executive Joe Manning
Joe Manning, chief executive at Marketing Cheshire, and deputy chief executive of Cheshire & Warrington LEP, on why there has never been a more important time to keep life local
I joined Marketing Cheshire and the Local Enterprise Partnership during lockdown, and from day one I have been fully focused, with my team, on helping the local economy restart and recover. It is great to now see the region begin to re-open for business.
It’s been a worrying time for Cheshire’s businesses. Shopkeepers have told me just how concerned they were about closing, keeping on staff, and keeping their business afloat. It was heartening to hear from one shop owner that, after just a few days of lockdown, her mobile phone started to ring. “It was loyal customers wanting to buy vouchers for when we re-opened,” she said.
That’s just the response we need for Cheshire to get back on its feet. This is the time to value and support not only our retailers but the visitor attractions, leisure businesses, cafés, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels that can keep our cities, towns, and villages thriving.
Many businesses have found ways to stay connected to customers through digital sales and take-out services. For some, it will remain the way they operate for now. Others have re-opened safely and securely. Our town centres have new one-way systems and increased al fresco options. Northwich, for example, has been celebrating its many independent businesses and has introduced a voucher scheme to help people support local businesses.
As well as encouraging local shopping we are taking the first steps to welcome visitors back to our region. Cheshire’s visitor economy has been worth about £3.7billion per year and provided more than 44,000 jobs. Last year we had more than 60 million visitors. It will be a long road to recovery, so it is heartening to see some of our larger attractions making the first steps.
Tatton Park has taken a phased approach to re-opening the parkland and gardens. Chester Zoo has also re-opened to visitors following huge support from local people keen to enjoy our world-leading wildlife sanctuary once more. These are just two of many examples. I’m new to the area, but I’m learning fast about the ambition and passion that exists in Cheshire and Warrington.
The lockdown has given us all time to reflect and reappraise what we really value. Many of us want to make more of local experiences and support those businesses that make Cheshire and Warrington such a great place to live, work and play. As we all adjust to the new normal, now is the time to show our appreciation for the pleasures and treasures on our doorstep.