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The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s eighth geographic cluster, The Baakens Valley Cluster, was established yesterday when businesses in the area came together to align and organise themselves into a united entity. This underscores the power of collaboration and provides a platform for businesses represented within the new cluster to collectively identify challenges within their geographical area for resolution.
During the last few years, the Baakens Valley has gone through a major developmental phase where some of the city’s recognisable brands in the entertainment and hospitality industries have injected much-needed energy into the area, making it one of the city’s preferred hotspots.
The formalisation of the cluster paves the way for key priorities to be identified and action plans to be developed, and responded to in partnership with existing structures within the area, such as neighbourhood watches for safety and security, and other relevant stakeholders.
The establishment of the cluster resulted in the appointment of an executive structure, with Remo’s owner Dante Cicognini being nominated as Chairperson. Other appointments included Algoa FM’s Desire Pratt as vice chairperson, Ian Whittle from Grindestone as Treasurer and Engineering Hub’s Wesley Augustyn, as Committee member.
The clustering approach is an initiative of the Chamber, which over the last year has facilitated the establishment of various sectoral and geographical clusters geared towards representing the needs and interests of business, with the primary focus of retaining much-needed investment and jobs in the Bay.
Over the past year and a half, the Chamber has facilitated the establishment of the Deal Party, Beachfront, North End, Perseverance, Struandale, Neave/Korsten and Kariega clusters, which have successfully developed action-orientated strategies to effectively respond to challenges they are faced with such as safety and security, illegal dumping, cleanliness, vandalism, potholes and other issues.
The newly appointed chairperson Dante Cicognini said that he believed the business cluster in the valley needed to prioritise safety and security and cleanliness as their initial focus areas.
“The valley is an intricate part of our city and we believe that it needs to be looked after. We believe it can create its own revenue income streams and we will try and tackle that as businesses in the area, by also aiming to revive our culture in the city. The area is home to around 7 landlords and 27 businesses,” said Cicognini.
Chamber chief executive officer Denise van Huyssteen said the coming together of businesses within the Baakens Valley area was key in enabling the area to untap its true potential. Tremendous leisure, entertainment, sports and recreational and nature orientated opportunities can be unlocked if the cluster and key stakeholders in the Bay work together, with this common vision driving their actions.
“As the Chamber, we have taken a proactive approach where we focus on what is within our spans of influence to constructively address some of the challenges facing the city, instead of pointing fingers and complaining from the outside. The clustering approach provides a basis through which all relevant stakeholders can come together and share resources and ideas to positively impact the trajectory of this city. As such, we are excited as the Chamber that businesses in the Baakens Valley recognise the importance of working as a collective to preserve what the area has to offer and to position it as an attractive destination for potential investment inflows and job creation,” said Van Huyssteen.
Earlier this year, the Chamber and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality signed a broad memorandum of understanding, which has paved the way for businesses to partner with the metro to implement solutions in response to the multiple challenges in the operating environment. The geographical clusters, with their collective resources, are well positioned to drive action and to achieve positive impact, which has a knock-on benefit in their immediate surrounding areas.