Year in Review: Sarah Loftus – Thinking ‘BIG’ for Lincoln

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Lincoln BIG is proud of its achievements during 2018 and I am confident that the coming year will be equally exciting for the city – as we build on our success in attracting more businesses, shoppers, tourists and students to this fast-growing destination.

It is nearly three months since I took up the reins of Chief Executive – ahead of what is poised to be a watershed moment in the UK’s history and also an important milestone for the Business Improvement Group.

In common with others countrywide, county businesses of all sizes continue to face uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations and unclear what the final deal will actually mean for them.

At the same time, Lincoln BIG is facing its five-yearly re-ballot in the Autumn. We are urging our 800 levy payers to reflect on our growing list of achievements since Lincoln BIG’s inception in 2005 – and to vote YES, giving us the mandate to give them MORE in the future.

Once again, we are at a point when we hope that Lincoln and the wider county’s traditional ability to ride out extreme economic highs and lows will protect us, as it has many times in the past.

We are delighted that, despite all the talk about the “death of the High Street”, Lincoln is holding its own. Yes, some names have disappeared, but the city continues to be a magnet for newcomers of all sizes who are investing heavily in bringing their brands here.

We are not complacent, but we know we are making a difference to local businesses and we are determined to offer them the best possible return on their levy payments in the years ahead.

Last year, together with our partners, we delivered 350 stunning events. The RAF100 Weekend alone attracted 50,000 visitors. We offered great travel deals for city workers, Park & Ride, subsidsed floral arrangements, Christmas Trees and flags, and the support of programmes such as Collaboration 4 Growth, which offers business grants.

As part of its preparations ahead of our re-ballot we surveyed our “member” businesses to discover what they know about us and how they would like us to support them in the future.

We were very pleased with the 18% response rate from those employed in a variety of sectors.

Most “members” were familiar with Lincoln BIG’s events. When asked to prioritise these for the next five years, the top scorers were Themed Trails, Speciality Markets and a Street Food Festival.

Some 49% of levy payers feel that Lincoln BIG’s services and support provide value for money. We received an average satisfaction rating of 5.7 (on a scale of 1-10). We will be focusing on this going forward. We want to improve on that.

We are excited about our plans for 2019. We have set our priorities and there are going to be some fabulous events for everyone to look forward to.

My top priorities are:

  • To make the city safer, cleaner, brighter and greener
  • To animate the city centre – making it the “go to destination” of choice
  • To communicate more with BIG’s levy payers and be clear on the impact Lincoln

BIG is happening.

Exciting events to look forward to over the coming months include: Lincoln by The Sea (July 27 to August 31), Lincoln BIG’s 1940s Weekend (August 10/11); The Asylum Steampunk Festival (August 23 to 26) and The Frequency Festival of Digital Culture (October 24 to 27).