You can’t suppress the optimism

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The times are challenging, says Dorset Chamber CEO Ian Girling, but businesses are ignoring the negativity and keen to move forward again

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Hello and welcome to my February column! I am so pleased to see the evenings starting to draw out and even see the first signs of spring in my garden – one of my favourite times of year.
Christmas already seems like a long time ago and business in Dorset has quickly got back to full-speed. Many businesses I speak to are optimistic about the future. But there is no doubt we are still seeing some challenges: access to finance is still a problem for many businesses, Brexit has had an extremely negative impact on export activities and many are still facing severe recruitment problems. And of course the energy cost crisis continues, genuinely threatening to put many out of business.
However, it was encouraging to see that inflation has dipped to just over 10%; nowhere near the 17 to 20% that was predicted not that long ago. The sharp intervention of raising interest rates to 3.5% by the Bank of England, the highest rate for 14 years, seems to be working.
Although this brings much pain for many with mortgages and loans, interest rate rises are one of the primary weapons for tackling inflation by decreasing money circulating in the economy.
It’s a hard pill to swallow but one that we must. Despite this, I still see much optimism from the business community; many are simply switching off from the constant negative messaging in the media and just want to get on with things.
I totally understand this; we must maintain a positive approach, look for solutions if we encounter problems and, crucially, not be afraid to seek help and ask for advice and guidance.
Research shows that businesses that take advice at an earlier stage have a far greater chance of survival than those that leave it until later. There is help out there and if Dorset Chamber can support in any way, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Dorset Apprenticeship Awards
National Apprenticeship Week begins on 6th February and I am delighted to announce that once again we will be running our Dorset Apprenticeship Awards in partnership with the Dorset and Somerset Training Provider Network.
The awards are completely free to enter and open to people of all ages on apprenticeship programmes and all sectors.
They naturally celebrate the contributions of apprenticeships to business but also the personal journey and achievements of apprentices themselves. From Monday you can apply for the awards on our website (dorsetchamber.co.uk) – we will celebrate finalists and winners at a special ceremony on 16th May.
If you are on an apprenticeship programme, or employ an apprentice, I’d really encourage you to enter!
Until next time, Ian.

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