Stacey Orrow, owner of The Colour Room hair salon tells us about how she set up the LGC Collaborative. The Collaborative had its first event on Friday 28 February.
What is the collaborative and what does it aim to do?
LGC Collaborative is a voluntary movement intended to connect Letchworth’s local businesses of whatever size to create a strong business community network. The aim is to communicate, educate and utilise each other to better our individual businesses and our garden city. Overall, we hope to contribute to the economic issues Letchworth is currently faced with, such as reduced footfall in our town.
What prompted this idea and when did it start?
I had the idea after attending the last Local Enterprise Partnership round table meeting in January. The Foundation and the LEP know that they need to engage local businesses in their strategic economic plans. However, it wasn’t clear to me that they have enough knowledge about small business to create an action plan on how we can all move forward to better our local economy.
Who is involved?
I set up LGC Collaborative and have been working closely with Graham Fisher, the Chief Executive of the Foundation, to bring this project to life. Letchworth local SMEs and micro businesses have had a keen involvement already, suggesting ideas to create a collaborative workspace and other events. They too agree this is something that needs to happen for all our businesses and for Letchworth.
How did the Heritage Foundation become involved?
I first talked to Graham at a LEP round table event. He agreed that there was a lack of SMEs involved in their plans to futureproof Letchworth’s economic future. He told me that the Foundation and the LEP were struggling to connect with them. So, I set him a challenge: ‘give me a month and a room, and I will bring them to you’. I said, you can ask them what they want, how you can help them, and how they can help Letchworth to move forward. We agreed a date to bring everyone together, and I started working to gather interest from other SMEs. Graham was very supportive throughout the process, he kept in contact with me almost every day to facilitate this, and we made it happen!
Why do you think this group is important for Letchworth entrepreneurs?
Any entrepreneur knows that the key to success is communication, education, and utilising those around you to move forward. To better the community means to better yourself. LGC Collaborative aims to make these key principles accessible and inclusive to any business, whatever size and at whatever point in their growth they may be.
You must be thrilled to have just hosted the first LGC Collaborative event. How did that go?
It was brilliant! We had an amazing turnout from a variety of local businesses who were all keen to participate. Graham and I were overwhelmed with how successful the event was. So many ideas came out of the meeting and everyone is keen to move forward together.
The Foundation and I are working on the next steps to pilot a few ideas for the town, and to get more feedback from Letchworth’s business community. Watch this space!