Time to invest in our own local businesses

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The long expected, possibly somewhat rumoured, scaling down of Novartis operations should have come as no more a surprise than Sun Alliance scaling back in Horsham town centre or when Yes Car Credit said ‘No’ to their ongoing tenancy.

Big businesses are designed more for their shareholders than the communities. It leaves landlords happy yet creates dependencies which damage local economies.

The phrase “eggs in one basket” springs to mind. The examples of economic damage to towns has historically been available across the country. Novartis should be the last time we allow ourselves to be distracted by global corporation promises.

The flashing lights of job prospects or improved economies are poor long term investments. Meanwhile the secondary and tertiary economies, through small and medium sized businesses of our county, continue to progress, to grow, to move, to spend, to employ and to wedge themselves further into the aspects of our communities.

The only respects paid to these contributors are a printed page or two and maybe an annual award put on by the few who chose themselves to choose for others. It may be that much media coverage will be expended on the benefits of John Lewis arriving in the west of Horsham but I doubt their presence will mean a sudden and growing renewal of orders for the local small businesses.

In more than a decade of which I have been a freelancing member of the self employed of Horsham District it has struck me that the best chance for reliable employment or economic growth have not been delivered by the incumbent names of our well paved high street stores or modern enterprise park occupants. However those more agile and progressive businesses which have formed new enterprises and developed opportunities in reaction to the community are growing and innovating.

Maybe instead of replacing one large corporation with another equally large ‘investor’ we should look to encourage the multitude of smaller businesses in order to spread our employment and revenue risks.

To provide a variety of job opportunities from which the impact of a departure or demise will not cascade into the local consciousness.

We should consider 2014 to be the year when Horsham invests in its own businesses and in local opportunities.

To stop seeking help and handouts from distant corporations whose investment in our well being is defined in nothing more than corporate social responsibility and good public relations.