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Time to come together to Celebrate Local

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THE JEP is today launching Celebrate Local – a new campaign to recognise the quality of what Jersey has to offer, promote and support Island businesses and to keep Jersey pounds in Jersey.

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In the past few weeks, Islanders have shown huge resolve and community spirit, coming together to support each other through lockdown and willingly giving up freedoms for the greater good to stop the spread of disease.

Now, as the focus turns towards getting back to some semblance of normality, there is a new cause around which we need to rally – to assist the economic recovery which is so important to all of our futures.

Every sector of our economy, from finance and farming to retail and hospitality, has felt the impact of Covid-19. Shops are only just reopening after weeks of forced closure and hotels and restaurants have been hanging on by a thread. Some local businesses have already gone under and others will not make it through the next few months.

Meanwhile, Jersey Post has never been busier, sorting and delivering Amazon parcels, lining the unimaginably deep pockets of Jeff Bezos and exporting hard-earned cash that could be circulating in Jersey’s economy, securing and creating jobs and paying for vital public services.

At the same time, many consumers are finding their pockets are shallower than ever and see a future riddled with uncertainty. They want a reasonable price and reliable service. Can local retailers compete with Amazon, which has no warehouse in Jersey, and exploit their points of difference? And if so, how? A great many Islanders would support local if they had compelling reasons to do so. Celebrate Local is about exploring these issues and finding the answers.

This is not the first time that Islanders have been asked to support local shops, restaurants, farmers, builders, hoteliers and other home-grown businesses, all of which are vital to the fabric, quality and diversity of Island life. But today, everything has changed.

The shock of Covid-19 has shaken the foundations of how we live and caused great loss and disruption. Jersey’s GVA, the measure of economic output, has decreased by 30% – or around £122 million a month.

It has also forced us to stop and reflect, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reassess values, priorities and the direction we want to take as a community.

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Celebrating local is a major part of the conversation about how we reshape and rebuild our Island. As well as the clear economic benefits of supporting local businesses, it has the potential to have a positive impact on the environment and food security, and is the best way to secure the long-term future of the town centre as a vibrant and diverse place to live, shop and work, and to safeguard its unique jewels like the Central Market.

Over the coming weeks, the JEP will use its unique position at the heart of Island life to enable a community-wide conversation about how to keep Jersey pounds in Jersey – to put our money where our houses are. Consumer champions will offer their thoughts, ideas and visions alongside business people, politicians and civil servants.

Now is the time to explore the benefits, challenges and opportunities of celebrating local. To deal head on with why people shop online, what support can be given to local traders and how they can meet consumer demands and expectations. Now is the time to talk about government procurement and the development of a local procurement policy. Now is the time to shout about the Island’s world-class produce and kickstart the next chapter in our unique story.

Now is the time for us all to come together to Celebrate Local.

'We all have a role to play,' say political and industry figures: CLICK HERE

Andy Sibcy

By Andy Sibcy
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