Lincoln is poised for exciting times as 2014 gets underway and I hope that the improved economic outlook will encourage more people to get behind the push to raise the city’s game.
Last year (2013) Lincoln BIG witnessed first-hand how tough it was for many business owners to stay motivated at a time of ongoing uncertainty and tight purse strings and we took as creative an approach as possible to support them.
Achievements-wise, we were proud to lead the way in staging 150 events.
We also produced enhanced security products and services for our levy payers and took every opportunity to bid for European monies, so that we could launch new initiatives.
Throughout we have continued to work alongside the Visit Lincoln Partnership in an effort to drive up tourism and we have pushed for new signage and launched Lincoln Ambassadors, which has already proved its value in offering a warm welcome to visitors – notably during the crowd pulling Lincoln Christmas Market.
I believe that transport, shopping, tourism and the growth of digital technologies will continue to impact on the city during 2014, when businesses and visitors will start to spot physical changes to the streetscape.
Major investment plans promise a start on the long-awaited East-West Link Road (in September) and the Brayford Wharf East Railway Footbridge and potential High Street Footbridge.
This programme of work will be complemented by the pedestrianisation of the section of the High Street between St Mary-le-Wigford and St Mark’s, making it easier for people on foot.
Interestingly, our research has shown there is heavier foot traffic in this area than we originally thought.
Millions of pounds have been invested in the Lincoln Castle Revealed project.
Intense interest in the revelations of archaeological investigations at the site, along with investment in other tourist hot spots and the push to win more conference and meetings business for Lincoln, also have good potential to bring more people into the city.
What is certain is that the challenges and opportunities created by the fast-paced digital age can only grow, particularly in the fields of web-based communications, with mobile options leading the way.
At Lincoln BIG we continue to respond to that trend, through the effective use of the Visit Lincoln website and social media channels, in additional to traditional public relations and marketing methods.
Whatever 2014 brings, the most important thing to think about is how the City responds to and manages the changes which are coming its way.
It is imperative that we grasp and make the most of any changes to improve life for our businesses, residents and visitors – rather than allow them to become missed opportunities.