Think Local
Russ Cockburn

Member Article

?Think Local? hits the £500,000 trade milestone

A unique initiative that promotes local trading across Staffordshire is setting its sights on recruiting its 1000th business after moving into private ownership.

www.thinklocal4business.co.uk (TL4B), which was originally formed by the eight district councils and the County Council, has grown to an impressive 900 members with an estimated £500,000 of sales done via the online platform to date.

As part of ambitious expansion plans, the local authorities have agreed to create a limited company that will be driven by a private sector board headed up by local business owner Peter Farmer.

This will give the initiative greater freedom to implement new and exciting developments and the opportunity to raise investment through sponsorship and advertising – all geared towards bringing more trade back into Staffordshire.

“We’ve proven that there is a demand out there for local companies to do business together and now is the time to really take it to the next level,” explained Peter Farmer, who is also managing director of the Grapevine.

“By taking the concept into private ownership we have the option to make decisions quicker and, for the first time, can be innovative in the way we raise money to plough back into ‘Think Local 4 Business’. “Everything will be geared towards making the website easier to use and to do business through – there’s even the possibility we could create a ‘local social media’ community.”

He added: “I’m delighted that five of the existing local authorities are also staying involved as they recognise the value of what we are trying to do. These include East Staffordshire Borough Council, Lichfield District Council, South Staffordshire District Council, Stafford Borough Council and Tamworth Borough Council.”

Registering on TL4B is free of charge to companies in Staffordshire, with each firm able to upload a profile that features contact details, description of services/products and the ability – like Facebook and twitter – to upload status updates, photos, videos and new discussions.

Companies can access a specialist section to view and respond to a host of tender opportunities from local firms and, importantly, public sector organisations.

The website will also continue to offer a comprehensive source of information on business support, advice, news and events across the county.

James Roberts, Board Member, picked up the story: “Think Local 4 Business is more than just about promoting the use of a website, it’s really a driver for a change in culture towards encouraging more sustainable procurement processes that are good for the environment and help to keep money in the local economy and create jobs.

“The amount of business participation has progressively increased and brought in at least £500,000 of inter-trading. With the new impetus gained from being a Limited company, I’m convinced we can double the existing 900 members within a year and smash the £1m barrier in the process.”

Lichfield-based Beautiful Gardens is one company that has already benefitted from its involvement in Think Local 4 Business.

The landscape gardeners and architects has been using the website for more than three years as a way of sourcing potential local suppliers and securing new business opportunities.

Simon Roberts, Managing Director, added his support: “Through TL4B, we were made aware of a tender that Lichfield District Council was putting out that involved the landscaping of an open space in the City.”

“We put a bid in for the work and were privileged to win. The natural play area, adjacent to Nether Stowe School in Lichfield, involved creating grassy mounds, planting semi-mature trees and positioning of large oak logs and sandstone bounders – a project we’re really proud of and one we wouldn’t have known about without the TL4B website.”

He concluded: “Another benefit we’ve seen is an increase in profile and traffic to www.beautifulgardens.co.uk, which is great news as we’ve recently launched an e-commerce facility where you can buy garden products, accessories and gifts.”

TL4B, which is currently in the middle of a sustained e-mail marketing recruitment campaign, will also be heavily involved in the forthcoming Think Local 4 Business Show due to be held in Burton-upon-Trent on November 29th. For further information, visit www.thinklocal4business.co.uk or follow us on twitter @tl4business

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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