The Isle of Man’s Department for Enterprise, through its Executive Agency, Business Isle of Man has announced a number of initiatives as part of the development of a Local Economy Strategy that will be released by the end of the year.
The Local Economy Strategy, will focus on the hospitality, retail and leisure offerings available in the Island, and will be developed in consultation with Island residents, local authorities and local businesses in line with the Island Plan’s aspiration to make the Isle of Man a more secure, vibrant and sustainable place to live and work.
Over the next three months Business Isle of Man will be conducting a number of consultations to develop a robust evidence set to support the strategy. This work will begin with a survey for Island residents to understand their views on the current retail, hospitality and leisure provisions in the Island, as well as opportunities for future improvements to high streets and retail areas. In parallel, Town Centre Audits will be conducted to assess service provision, current infrastructure and amenities available in our key towns and villages.
As part of the development of the Strategy, the Department in consultation with the Agency has taken the opportunity to review two key Covid recovery projects, to understand how they can best support the local economy in the longer term.
Following two years of trial, the Domestic Event Fund will now be reopening as a permanent initiative. This Fund provides the opportunity for event organisers and local authorities to develop exciting new events which will drive footfall and increase spending with nearby businesses. This initiative was first launched in 2020 and to date has encouraged over 200,000 people to attend unique events taking place all over the Island.
Another Covid recovery project reviewed by the Economic Strategy Board is the LoveIOM Gift Card Scheme which will conclude in July 2024, with new card sales having ended on 23rd July 2023. All existing cardholders will have a year to spend their card balances, with over 65 eligible hospitality merchants across the Island. Cardholders can check their remaining balance on the LoveIOM website‘s ‘Manage Your Card’ section or from their digital wallets.
Tim Johnston MHK, Minister for Enterprise commented: “We are now at a stage where we can take a more long-term view of how to add resilience and vibrancy to our economy. Business Isle of Man has committed to bring forward a Local Economy Strategy that will deliver our ambition of modernising and adapting our enabling sectors.
“While we explore ways to support the Local Economy we have some ongoing initiatives that need to be re-aligned to the ambitions of the Economic Strategy. The Agency’s announcement that the Domestic Event Fund will continue, is good news for local authorities and event organisers, as this removes some of the risks associated with planning new and large-scale events that drive footfall into our towns and villages.”
“In regard to the Love IOM Gift Card Scheme, I would like to thank the Manx public and our merchants for their support towards the initiative. As with other Covid recovery projects, the time has come for this scheme to conclude. Our objective was to create a flexible tool to stimulate demand in the local economy during the Covid-19 recovery and provide targeted support to the hospitality sector during the cost of living crisis, which the gift card platform has done successfully.”
Dr Michelle Haywood MHK, Political Member for Business Isle of Man commented: “The Island Plan clearly lays out our objective to build great communities on the Island and I am pleased to see how this will be addressed through the upcoming Local Economy Strategy and initiatives. Our towns and villages are at the heart of our communities and improving amenities, leisure infrastructure and encouraging enterprise to flourish is the key to ensuring vibrancy and sustained growth across our local economy.”
Steve Pickett, Chair of Business Isle of Man, commented: “Business Isle of Man is pleased to be taking forward this important piece of work adopted from the Island Plan and the Economic Strategy. The Local Economy Strategy will take a data driven approach in its development, incorporating best practices from other successful Town Centre First Models along with the body of first-hand experiences and knowledge that is available to us from our dynamic businesses, residents and local authorities.
“The Island’s local economy is a priority area for Business Isle of Man and we are committed to developing and delivering a robust strategy that is focused on breaking down barriers to businesses, driving innovation and diversification whilst ensuring the Island is a vibrant place to live and work.”