Grangetown’s first business forum has been launched, as part of a wider campaign to encourage more shopping in local independent stores.
The launch evening saw a range of Grangetown businesses, shop keepers and tradespeople get together at Tramshed Tech in Pendyris Street for an evening which involved digital training, networking – and discussions about what people wanted from the forum.
Those coming along included established businesses with more than 30 years experience to new shops which had only opened a few months before. There were also businesses operating from home and also members of Grangetown’s youth forum who were interested in learning about setting up enterprises.
There was a presentation on the essentials for small businesses thinking of getting online by Google Digital Garage, which is offering free digital/tech training in an adjoining space in the Tramshed building until the end of March.
In the future, the forum might consider Q&A sessions with local councillors, council leaders and City Region chiefs, while there will be a chance to tap in to experts and speakers from Cardiff Business School.
The forum idea is being put forward by Grangetown Community Action, with the support of Cardiff University’s Community Gateway programme. It is part of a #LoveGrangetown/Shop Grangetown project.
The forum was facilitated by business mentor and coach Rob Firth – a Grangetown resident – who has offered his expertise to the project. A further boost came from Tramshed Tech – the newly-opened creative/tech hub in the far end of the Tramshed building – which has kindly offered the venue for initial meetings.
The hope is for Love Grangetown, Shop Grangetown eventually to promote the best of the area’s independent stores and also organise a “shop local” campaign. A website LoveGrangetown.biz is being set up to showcase some of the best examples of local indies – while also creating an online directory.
“We had a very positive first meeting, with lots of ideas shared and at the end, there were already businesses networking and swapping numbers,” said Steve Duffy, who is project lead for Grangetown Community Action.
“There was a real focus on the positives from business working more closely together, promoting themselves better but many of them live here too and it shone through how committed they are to improving the community they are so much an important part of.”
Dr Eleri Rosier of Cardiff University, who has involved marketing students in research in the early days of the project, said: “It’s fantastic to see the work both undergraduate and post graduate students at Cardiff Business School have been working on since 2015 come to fruition with the launch of the very first Business Forum in Grangetown.
“Feedback from my students suggest that they love working on a “live” project rather than on a purely theoretical academic piece of work and they have also commented that they feel more connected to the city in which they are studying by working on the Grangetown projects.”
As a first step, post-graduate marketing students from Cardiff Business School surveyed shoppers and business owners to get some opinions.
- 80% understood the concept of “shop local” and rated it as important
- But only 45% of residents knew about some of the shops and were less familiar with more specialist stores.
- More than half of shop owners were interested in joining a business forum – with strong interest in getting access to digital or IT skills training.
- There was also big support for the idea of an occasional street market – from 78% of shoppers and 63% of shop owners.
The survey of more than 150 shoppers and businesses also highlighted concerns about parking and traffic congestion, and litter in the area.
Businesses interested in the next forum – Monday 27th February (6.30pm-8.30pm at Tramshed Tech) can pop along on the night – or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
A separate project group of volunteers will be set up soon to work on the street market idea for later this year.