A group created just over 10 years ago to support traders and businesses in LS29 has seen a surge in membership during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Founding member of the Ilkley Business Forum, David Lowe, who still serves on the committee, says membership has surged by 12% since March as more local businesses join the group’s fortnightly zoom meetings to share experiences, learn from invited speakers and offer each other “unparalleled” encouragement.
Ilkley Business Forum was launched in 2009 by solicitor and former Town Mayor of Ilkley and Chairman of Ilkley Parish Council Steve Butler alongside other local businesses including businessman David Lowe who is still on the committee today. In the 11 years since its formation, the group has created the highly acclaimed Ilkley Business Awards, been instrumental in the formation of Ilkley BID and were the voice of local retailers in the controversial A-board campaign.
With original participants including Lishmans, Craiglands and U Dentistry, today it includes Audley Clevedon, Eatons Solicitors, The Art Shop and Clip and Climb amongst its members.
David Lowe said: “Ilkley Business Forum was launched to create a regular place and space for local traders to meet to discuss issues of local importance and to build on the strong spirit of mutual support in LS29.
“Over the years we have attracted local businesses as well as traders as we recognise the strength in coming together across all sectors. Members give perspectives, insights and can offer advice that is invaluable to each other and never have we had a greater sense of purpose than now as we use our growing network to provide information and support to help us all through the most challenging and – for many – very worrying times that Covid-19 presents.”
He added: “Businesses in LS29 have a shared passion for our towns and a shared commitment to creating a thriving future. We have reduced our membership fee by half until March 2021 to help more businesses to access our support and by working together and promoting each other we can succeed as individual businesses and create a business community that is strong, resilient and informed.”
Newest members to join the Ilkley Business Forum is Home Instead Senior Care. Director Simon White took the decision to join in August to actively engage with other local businesses and share experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “As a home care provider we work closely with the healthcare sector and have considerable knowledge that we knew would be invaluable to share with the wider community, while being keen to learn from the experiences of other businesses. As a team we felt it was really important to network with other businesses and keep up to date with all that’s happening in Ilkley. It has been a really useful exercise, leaving us feeling better informed, better connected and better prepared for the coming months.”
Scheduled speakers for upcoming monthly Ilkley Business Forum Zoom meetings include on 9 September Approach PR Managing Director and President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce Suzanne Watson who will advise members on how to use PR to help survive Covid-19 and on 14 October mental health first aider Jennifer Rawlinson will be talking about managing anxiety as teams return to work.