— Matt Corrigan is the Chief Executive of Lincoln Business Improvement Group
Despite the economic gloom, 2012 is starting on a positive note for Lincoln BIG – with lots of projects on the agenda – but also plenty of good reasons to build on the city’s fast-rising reputation. In the face of a potential economic downturn things aren’t going to be easy, but there are some genuine reasons for businesses and customers in the city centre to look forward to 2012.
Early on in the year will see the completion of the A46, a modern duel carriageway link to the M1 and conurbations of the Midlands, which is highly important strategically for the city, and looks set to be really good news. The challenge for Lincoln BIG is about to be making the most of this at a time that most businesses organisations and families are tightening their belt, and we plan to concentrate the investment from our levy payers in signage, marketing and events to attract more people to the city.
In particular we are looking to capitalise on the fact that Steep Hill has been named the best street in the UK and the Visit Lincoln Partnership, which we helped to form last year, is going from strength-to-strength and is working hard to strengthen Lincoln’s identity through a new brand image.
The government has also agreed at last that the city should be properly acknowledged as a tourist destination, with a brown sign on the A1 and we hope to conclude negotiations for this and get signage in place.
Good things to look forward to in the city centre in 2012 include the 2012 Olympics celebrations and the visit of the Olympic flame in June. Lincoln’s own Olympic “Live” site with a big screen, mini Olympic park and street dressing on the refurbished Cornhill will be part of the celebrations during the games themselves.
2012 also sees the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a host of other city centre events including mystery plays and Cathedral flower festival, the return of the successful 1000 years of crafts events, sausage, busking, jazz, mini, morris dancing and children’s festivals to name but a few.
Meanwhile our larger city centre traders are continuing to fly the flag for late night Thursday trading all year round and we are looking to build on the range of early evening events and activities in the city centre.
It is hard to tell what the national and international economic situation will be and we can only marginally cushion these though our efforts in Lincoln, but locally the prospects for the city centre in 2012 are good, and with a fair wind we can hold our own, maintain a low retail vacancy rate and continue to attract new businesses to the city.