Ayrshire Chamber are just like so many of you. We thrive on being out and about, interacting with and supporting our members and local businesses in any way we can. As a small business ourselves, facing the many challenges of 2020 has meant a shift in our behaviour and the necessity to embrace what is now termed ‘the new normal’

Working from homes across Ayrshire, the Chamber team has invested in and embraced new technologies, even managing to host a virtual Business Week. This did not come naturally and looking back through the past 12 years of Business Weeks while planning to deliver virtual events direct to businesses screens instead left us feeling very nostalgic.

The week launched on 5th October with a Zoom conference FORWARD TOGETHER – A DIGITAL AGENDA FOR RECOVERY supported by speakers from Ayrshire College and Chamber President, Frank Gormanley.

On 6th October Liam Smyth from the British Chambers of Commerce delivered an update on what businesses can expect for International Trade once the current EU transition period ends on 31st December 2020.

The B2B exhibition was successfully delivered online by working with The Events Hub and in partnership with principal sponsor, Business Gateway. This event included networking, workshops and the always popular “Stay Connected” B2B exhibition held on 7th October via the event platform OnAir.

On Thursday, a lovely lunch would usually be shared in one of our fantastic Ayrshire venues. This year participants had to bring their own to join a panel of speakers from Investing Women and AccelerateHER, hearing about the fantastic journey Findra embarked on when sourcing investment to grow her business.

Business Week would normally conclude with a Gala Dinner to celebrate the Ayrshire Business Awards. Currently on hold, the awards will hopefully be possible at a later date. Instead a celebration of local Ayrshire produce was enjoyed with a virtual cooking demonstration from Simply Simon, cheeses from Dunlop Dairy and a Taste of Arran, wines from Corney & Barrow and excellent conversation from the Ayrshire Food Network.

Brian Wade, Wades – Print That Works said “The Wades team were pleased to join fellow Ayrshire Chamber members in successfully exhibiting our Creative Graphic Design and Printing Services online at the first ever virtual Stay Connected Ayrshire business exhibition. The online platform organised by Ruby Sweeney of The Events Hub allowed us to have face to face video meetings, attend workshops, send direct messages to attendees and easily share information on our print products. A great opportunity at this time when traditional business exhibitions are not allowed. We will definitely win new business due to being involved in the event”

Val Russell, CEO Ayrshire Chamber said “We were both nervous and excited to bring Business Week to you this year instead of the other way around. We are all having to find new ways of working and we would like to thank all those who took the plunge with us and embraced the technology. It is often said that every day is a school day and we are all certainly having to learn quickly.”

Looking ahead, we have a Buy Ayrshire campaign with a special Christmas shopping brochure to encourage local trade and are pleased to also support Scotland Loves Local. Look out for the special offers on our website at www.ayrshire-chamber.org

On to the New Year, who knows what awaits us around the corner but rest assured, you will not face it alone. Although the office remains closed, for more information on how Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce can help support your business, please contact us via email at enquiries@ayrshire-chamber.org