Five years on and looking forward

 In Blog, CEO's blog

Five years is a long time. It’s over, it’s time to move on. Time to stop looking backwards and wishing for what once was. Yes, it’s five years since the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and here at ELBA we have decided we really ought to let go of our Olympics nostalgia. To help mark the change the World Para Athletic have just finished and the IAAF World Championships start in 10 days, providing a suitable celebratory moment for saying farewell to 2012 and looking forward.

Two things have brought this to a head for us. Firstly, we are having a bit of an office move around here at ELBA Towers and it has made us think that we do have quite a lot of Olympic & Paralympic related pictures on the wall, and bits and pieces of memorabilia keep coming to light. Those in charge of such things here have decreed that there shall be a purge and there will be no more backward looking, only forwards to the brave new world. In ELBA’s offices you will not be able to spot that the Games ever happened.

Secondly, I was asked last week by a journalist from a national publication who was writing an article about the London Games legacy five years on to comment on the legacy of the London Games from a business perspective. I believe for most residents and businesses who have any connection to east London, there cannot really be any doubt about the significant benefit to the economy and community. If businesses thrive when confidence and optimism are high, then the London Games delivered that in bucketfuls. More specifically, I think there are five strands to the legacy for business:

  1. Physical regeneration – anyone who remembers what the area which is now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was like beforehand will testify to the massive change. It is now fantastically connected, with a very pleasant environment and it has become a very attractive location for employers. Major businesses, including ELBA business partners, are moving to Stratford International Quarter bringing high quality jobs with them.
  2. Stratford itself is livelier and more bustling than it ever was. There was concern at the time that the creation of Stratford City would kill off the old shopping centre, but the opposite seems to be the case. Trade appears to be thriving, footfall is high, and a there is an attractive arts and university zone to give the area an extra dimension.
  3. The surrounding area has benefitted from new interest. Places like Hackney Wick have become locations for creative businesses and the transport infrastructure is getting an upgrade.
  4. Great use is being made of the Olympic venues. The International Broadcast Centre has been converted into Here East – a modern, top quality location that is attracting high profile businesses. Ford have just announced that they will locate their innovation centre there.
  5. The development of the area continue apace – most notably the Creative and Education District which will see major institutions bringing new centres to the QEOP, including the V&A, London College of Fashion, Sadlers Wells and University College London. This will bring another tranche of high quality employment to the area.

Some might argue that the changes would have happened anyway – but they were not showing many signs of happening anytime soon, and the level of inward investment into the area seems most unlikely to have occurred without the catalyst provided by the Games. Talking to the Chief Executive of one of the local authorities in the area last week, he said they had got everything they had hoped from the Games.

So if we are all agreed, we can move on. Meanwhile, Wenlock and Mandeville have gone into hiding…

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