2020 has been a year like no other, challenging and testing for everyone both professionally and personally. At the outset Brexit was the big concern but early in the year we were suddenly introduced to Covid-19 which brought unprecedented change to us all.
Starting with the cancellation of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and other planned events, followed by lockdowns and the closure of businesses across the country, little did we think we would still be in the throes of this situation now, as Christmas approaches.
This has been the toughest year imaginable for business particularly in the retail, hospitality and service sectors, who are the largest employers in County Longford.
On a positive note as we emerge from level 5 restrictions most businesses have re-opened in time for the Christmas trade.
However, we must acknowledge the plight of our local publicans who remain closed at what should be their busiest time of the year.
Amidst all the upheaval there has been vital support from Longford County Council, national government and the Local Enterprise Office in the form of PUP, EWSS, restart grants etc., enabling businesses to stay afloat.
Longford LEO’s trading online voucher scheme has enabled many local businesses to develop Ecommerce websites and trade online.
Well done to Michael Nevin, Head of local enterprise, Anna Lane and the team in Longford LEO who have approved 120 applications so far.
This scheme is still available, for more information please contact Longford LEO or Longford Chamber of Commerce.
The business owners of Longford have shown great resilience and adaptability to maintain their business this year, with innovative ideas such as repurposing their businesses, outdoor dining, takeaway services, getting online, click and collect, digital marketing and measures taken to make premises safe for their staff and customers.
We have also seen new businesses opening this year which is positive.
Shop local has never been so important. The #shoplongford campaign run through LEO in conjunction with Longford Chamber is a great success, the associated consumer competition continues in the coming weeks so get shopping locally to participate.
We all need to support our local businesses and by shopping locally we can make a difference.
The power of every €uro spent is mammoth, approximately 45 cents of every €uro spent is reinvested locally.
This is paramount for the survival of our towns and villages.
Our local businesses provide local employment and support the local community.
These are the businesses who sponsor sports teams, donate to local charities and play a vital role in viability of our towns and villages. Longford Chamber of Commerce encourages everyone to shop local whenever possible.
Just to note there is free parking in Off Street carparks every day from December 12th until January 1st
As 2020 draws to a close there is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines becoming available in the coming weeks. The local business community has learned a lot this year and have been forced to do things we never imagined possible. We will take these learnings into 2021 and beyond which can only be a positive.
We at Longford Chamber of commerce are planning for 2021. We will continue to promote Longford as a great place to do business and represent our members interests locally and nationally in 2021.
On behalf of all our members and chamber council I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, a Healthy and Prosperous new year.
- Chamber of Commerce President Fiona Fenelon