City Conversations - Next for Norwich

We were delighted to welcome local Norwich businesses to join us for our City Conversations: Next for Norwich Conference at Norwich City Football Club this May. This was a fantastic opportunity for the BID to look back over the past 5 years, discuss challenges and ambitions for Norwich, and set out its plans for a 3rd term - plans written in consultation with city businesses themselves. Through an engaging range of talks, panels and keynote speakers, we covered the subjects that matter the most to Norwich - encouraging business owners to have their say, ask questions and join in with the conversation.

We began the morning with a look back at the BID's work over the last 5 years, including some of our annual activity like Head out not Home and the Norwich Tunnel of light, as well as our year-round promotion of Norwich as a tourist destination, through VisitNorwich. With help from our dedicated Norwich Hosts, who are the foot soldiers welcoming visitors in the city, we aim to improve the experiences the city has to offer visitors and locals alike. 

As well as attracting visitors to Norwich, we revealed ambitious plans to draw in more people to work and live in the city. We used this opportunity to unveil our brand new initiative, 'Work in Norwich' (WiN) - which aims to put Norwich in the forefront as the city to work and live in. Highlighting the 'every day WiNs' that Norwich has to offer, Work in Norwich showcases the benefits and opportunities of working in the city for professionals and business owners alike.  With a series of marketing campaigns and a new dedicated website, Work in Norwich aims to be the go-to place for people looking to relocate to Norwich - from property advice to networking contacts, employment agencies to sector-specific advice, we are here to inform and inspire.

The other key topic covered in the conference was sustainability, and how sustainability will play a role in the growth of city centres across the world - including Norwich. We have committed to helping businesses in the city reduce their carbon emissions, and part of this proposal includes working with the Norwich market traders to achieve its aim to become the first carbon neutral market in the world! We discussed our Net Zero Waste Champions initiative that's running through our Onwards Norfolk project, providing training for companies on creating and implementing 'net-zero strategies'. We have even recently launched the Norwich Upcycling Exchange, enabling local businesses to benefit from a circular economy. 

Our two external speakers delved further into the importance of sustainability. Ojay McDonald, Chief Executive of the ATCM and international high streets expert, gave an empowering talk on the future of cities and the alarming effects of climate change.

The keynote address, documentary maker Simon Reeve, challenged the audience to think about the importance of sustainability and climate change. He discussed the changes we can all make, including planting a tree, eating a more plant-based diet, reducing air travel and moving our pension provision to invest in green products.

Isabel Johnson, Head of Marketing at Norwich BID commented: "The BID May conference was a place for us to present the BID's plans for the next 5 years, review the BID's 2nd term, and hear from 2 amazing guest speakers about one of the most pressing issues faced by cities across the UK. But more valuable than that was the opportunity to hear from Norwich business people - representatives from a breadth of places including Norwich Market, The Broads Authority, and Aviva. As part of the panel discussion we covered vital topics such as planning, recruitment and staff shortages, and insights like this are absolutely vital in order for the BID to deliver the work Norwich businesses want to see. I really enjoyed the day - it felt genuinely collaborative."

We are delighted to have seen such a brilliant turn out for the conference and to take the opportunity to speak with more local businesses about what's next for Norwich - and how the issue of sustainability can impact on businesses. Weren't able to attend the conference in person? Stay tuned for our highlight reel, coming soon!