Like the man said, everything is unprecedented until it happens.
Then again, how many people considered the possibility of a virus putting large chunks of commerce into near-stasis for over a year?
Given what we now know about this kind of phenomenon, and in the event (God forbid) of it ever happening again, it’s understandable that people should be looking at how to create a pandemic-proof economy.
That was the theme discussed by a group of industry gurus during one of those online webinars. Being a free event it turned out to be worth every penny, although I was struck by the comment that there was more to be learned from failures than successes.
In many instances, went the argument, COVID hastened closures that were probably inevitable over time by exposing weak business models based on inflexible borrowing.
Agility and adaptability suited the smaller outfits These were the guys better equipped to exploit those niche markets created by shortages, real and induced.
Admittedly, it’s all a bit simplistic but there’s no harm in examining the outcomes for firms who went into hibernation compared to those who tried to embrace a changed trading environment.
That said, this isn’t the time for extended reflection either. We’re seeing things pick up again regionally and in the right places.
Summer hospitality events will be few on the ground, yet things could get a new momentum come September. I’m told that awards evenings at the Brangwyn Hall are back on the programme and the city’s glitterati will be able to get the glad-rags out again.
Networking groups such as SA1 Waterfront Business Club are talking about resuming activities in coming months.
There’s discernible growth across sectors. A couple of tech firms on our books are keen to upgrade their operations in the locality. Both are about to start hiring, provided things go to plan.
Like many others, their optimism is matched by reality. If we’ve learned one thing it’s that having a contingency is definitely good business. The medium-term is going to be about balancing opportunities with a plan on how to cope should another COVID wave come along.
By the way, the man who made the comment about things being unprecedented was Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger.
You may recall that he piloted Flight 1549 to safety after a double engine failure by landing in New York’s Hudson River. All passengers and crew survived an unprecedented series of events.
That achievement took a lot more than good fortune. It was the application of key lessons learned during a lifetime. We should be doing the same.
Local action aimed at communities
A key factor throughout this pandemic, in my opinion anyway, has been the extent to which local authorities have supported communities and business.
It’s been encouraging to see Swansea taking a lead in recent times and that this backing will extend into the future.
A £20 million package of initiatives and inducements may seem a modest sum compared to the amounts made available by governments. Yet the difference is that this money is aimed at district level where the effects will be a lot more significant.
There’s no doubt for me that cities need showcase developments like the new arena to reflect a sense of ambition. But they’re equally required to focus on the needs of the communities that make up a city.
Local government has to be about local action and that means both economic and social investment.
Decent roads, decent neighbourhoods and a green environment have to be integral parts of the same regional regeneration agenda. Clearly that message has already been received and understood.