Shaping a local talent pool

Landlord of The White Swan, John McGuiness with Cllr Annie Brewster and Irish Dancing Girls

Landlord of The White Swan, John McGuiness with Cllr Annie Brewster and Irish Dancing Girls - Credit: Archant

The chief executive of the district council told local business leaders he wants to lead a council where the customer is at the forefront of what they do and help businesses by being responsive and focused on solutions.

James Blake was addressing a recent Chamber breakfast meeting at Westminster Lodge which looked at the progress of the St Albans Professional Services Hub branding, the initiative to bring together local accountants, solicitors and consultants in order to encourage people to look at St Albans as a city of expertise and a great place to do business.

James said the local economy is strong with only 1.2 per cent unemployment and only 7 per cent vacancy rates on premises (the national average is 14 per cent), and the council’s main focus is currently on retail, the strengths of economy, the visitor economy and business-friendly projects.

Consultant Kate Adam from Meredith Marketing is putting together a St Albans Professional Services CV which includes many members of the Chamber. This will provide evidence of the great firms we have here and the talent pool within them, and the Chamber is very pleased to be part of this campaign.

Quality fast broadband is vital for the modern business, and this has recently been installed in the STANTA building by Chamber members Trust Networks. With modern business demands and more people connecting to hosted services this is an area that just cannot be compromised.

Managing director of Trust Networks Kevin Matthew told me: “Every business is now reliant on quality broadband connection, and in the fast moving IT environment the demand and the response is now far greater.”

Our fantastic Mayor has been supporting local businesses over the weekend; following a wonderful Civic Ball on Friday night at Sopwell House Cllr Annie Brewster officially opened the St Patrick’s Day festivities at The White Swan in St Albans.

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The White Swan, a hidden emerald behind Christopher Place shopping centre which has been run by John McGuiness for the last three years, saw a day of celebrations on Saturday, fulfilling a large community appetite for such an event on a very sunny afternoon in Upper Dagnall Street.

John said he would like to get the road closed to cars next year and organise a whole weekend of celebrations for our residents who enjoyed sounds from the band Right Said Ted.

Security on the day was supplied by Chamber members Principal Security, and managing director Sid Khan said: “It is great to see people out enjoying themselves, everyone seems happy and there has been no problem or trouble here today. Just lots of fun and lots of people spending money in our local economy.”

We celebrate St George in style next month with over 330 business representatives attending our St George’s Day Lunch on Friday, April 25. Our event sponsor is Clydesdale Bank and this year we are supporting Grove House Hospice as our nominated charity.

Our other sponsors include Principal Security Consultants, Debenhams Ottaway Solicitors, Impact, Giant Cycle Stores, Havana, SG Hambros Bank Ltd, Kingston Smith Accountants, PwC and My Mustard. Their support is greatly appreciated however we need support from more local businesses to help us with our fundraising on the day.

We have Chris Small from Hertfordshire Auctions helping us out with a charity auction and would be very pleased to hear from any local firms that wish to donate items for this. We are looking for support from restaurants, holiday companies and anything else exclusive that would appeal to our guests. The guest speaker on the day is World Cup referee Graham Poll. The event has completely sold out and is our biggest networking event of the year. Please contact us if you can offer your support.