|Environment for Businesses and Opportunities for Local People Created by Olympic Venues Before, During and After the Games|
London 2012 venues will provide significant opportunities for businesses, creating an environment that is highly suited to business development combined with large direct investment. Local people and communities are also set to benefit in many ways beyond just the increased employment created by this business development.
Putting on any Olympic Games is one of the biggest business projects a country will have to coordinate in terms of sheer size and diversity, including almost everything from major construction projects to gardens and plants. Because of the sheer scale and scope of what is required, any Olympic organising committee will need to contract a large number of businesses to carry out and implement the various elements that will go into making an Olympics successful, and London has expanded this even further.
LOCOG – London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games – is contracting many businesses to fulfil a range of projects for the Olympic Games, with over 70,000 business contracts awarded by 2012, and has been determined to offer opportunities to all size businesses.
However, because of the sheer number of projects that need completing, the procurement process is being conducted on a tier basis, with LOGOC dealing directly only with the top tier. These top tier companies are then tasked with fulfilling the required contracts through sub contraction. This, again, has been done in many cases with several tiers involved.
For example, the Olympic Stadium design and construction was awarded to the Team McAlpine consortium. In order to fulfil this, they in turn subcontract to a number of smaller companies to fulfil aspects of the stadium construction, such as electricals or plumbing, with these companies again able to subcontract other companies to carry out aspects of that area of the project.
This tiered structure has a number of benefits. Firstly, it allows for LOCOG to control the over-all budget, as they can contract the top tier companies on a fixed cost basis. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it allows for smaller UK businesses, and particularly ones local to the venues, to contest for contracted work.
It has always been an important aspect of the London bid that the Olympics would have a profound, positive and lasting effect on UK business and particularly small, local businesses. Increased, long term employment opportunities is always key to any regeneration project, and the most successful way of achieving this is to increase the number of small local businesses and provide them with future sustainability.
Contracts given to these small, local businesses by LOCOG will not only provide significant increased employment opportunities within those companies and provide them with greater financial stability, but will also give those businesses significant development in their expertise and experience, placing them in a much better position to contest for future business in their industry sector.
Big projects such as the Olympics require large companies with large resources to complete them, but by successful tiering and sub-contraction many smaller companies and businesses have been able to benefit from the contracts given directly by LOCOG for the delivery of the London Olympic Venues.
During the Games
While many small businesses local to the London Olympic Venues are involved in their construction and preparation, during the Games there will be many more local businesses contracted to provide and supply a range of services and goods. There will be many required for all people involved in the Games, from athletes to coaches, media to security, with even greater requirements from businesses to meet the needs of spectators. Many small and medium sized businesses will be contracted to be the official suppliers of goods and services to the general public at all the venues. Being awarded an official supplier is highly lucrative for any business as it raises their profile while giving them the ability to command a higher price for the goods and services as well as a potentially greater demand.
In-Direct Business Opportunities
There are many opportunities for businesses outside of those directly contracted by LOCOG. The London Olympics has provided many key ingredients that create a strong business environment, mainly by significantly increasing demand, particularly in the local communities of the venues.
When Olympic Sports and events are awarded to a location, it immediately increases that location's profile. What is even more important for business, is that it is very sector specific. Locations are in most cases given events because they have an already established link to that sport or event.
For example, Weymouth, the venue for the London sailing events, already has a long history in sailing. As a result, many local businesses are directly and indirectly linked to sailing and related industries. It will therefore be local businesses in Weymouth that are likely to benefit most from the awarding of the sailing events.
For local businesses, being involved in the delivery of events at a venue will significantly raise their profile and reputation as a high quality company in their industry sector. This provides them with greater business potential for non-Olympic related work.
In effect, the raised profile will increase the demand for any business involved in the venues and in their locations.
Because the Olympics is at the very top of the sporting industry, the venues in turn are considered the very best and any location awarded an Olympic event will automatically have an increased profile as a world class centre of excellence. While this is largely specific for that sport, it does have a knock on effect on the status and profile of that area as a whole for business. The areas developed by the Olympics and the Olympic venues will become significantly more attractive to investment long after the Games, particularly in the regenerated areas of London where the difference before and after the Olympic development will be stark.
As with any Olympics, London will see very large numbers of people attending the Olympics. In fact, London is set to sell out every available ticket for the Olympics, and may well do the same for the Paralympics. There will also be large numbers of people from around the world, as well as from other parts of the UK, who do not have tickets but will travel in order to experience the atmosphere and occasion of what promises to be a very special Olympics.
While all areas of the UK will likely see a benefit from this, which is essentially an increase in tourism, it is London and the Olympic Venues that will see the most benefit as this is where the concentration of these extra people is most likely to be greatest.
This will create significant opportunities to a wide range of non-official businesses. Hotels and other types of accommodation, restaurants and food outlets, merchandising and other retail stores as well as general tourist attractions can all potentially benefit from the millions of people expected to descend on the venues.
Businesses in the venue areas will also see a greater benefit from the Paralympic Games that follows. The Paralympics remains significantly lower key than the Olympics, and the benefits to the wider UK are likely to be smaller. However, potential for businesses around and involved with the venues will remain strong throughout the Paralympics, with it set to be the most successful and attended Paralympics in history. The hight of the business potential for businesses linked to the venues will therefore extend for many months, starting before and finishing long afterwards.
LOCOG has in place information and support for businesses so they can maximise the potential that the Olympics offers, to deal with the increased demand for their goods and services while also minimising any adverse effects that any disruptions the Olympics may cause, such as in transport.
It is not just the numbers of extra people that will be attending the venues and their locations, but also their frame of mind that helps increase potential benefits for businesses. People attending the Olympics do so generally with a greater willingness to spend money, as they look to make the most of a special occasion. For many, it will be a once in a life time event, and people are generally more relaxed and positive about the benefits they will receive from their expenditure. Provided this positive outlook on spending is not damaged by prices that are too high and other potential pitfalls, businesses in and around the venues will likely find a keen public willing to spend their money with them.
It is inevitable at large events such as the Olympics that the movers and shakers within a range of industries, both sporting and non-sporting, will interact with each other. Corporate hospitality has long been a key financial aspect within sport, and this is likely to be the case more than ever during London 2012.
Business has always developed through the contacts people have and the shared knowledge and opportunities these create. By bringing together many leading business people across industry sectors to the same place at the same times creates a strong environment for businesses in the UK to increase their contact network and as a result increase business potential long into the future.
Long Term Business Benefits
Previous Olympics have had significant long term benefits to host cities and nations from a business point of view. The Barcelona Olympics in 1992 raised the profile of the city from surprising obscurity outside of Europe to the twelfth most visited destination in the world. Though much work was done subsequently, it was the raised international profile of the city that the Olympics brought that was the catalyst for the turn in fortunes of one of the world's great cities.
Capitalising on this post Olympic potential has always been a key part of the legacy aims of the London Olympics, and the role of the venues is a crucial part.
London has done significant work in making sure that all stadiums have a long term future use and a long term impact on the communities of their locations. It has been a criticism of some venues of previous Olympics that great 'White Elephants' were left once the Games were finished, large empty stadiums with nothing to fill them.
Currently, it seems that all the venues used in London 2012 will have significant long term use and benefits to businesses, and particularly local ones.
By selecting locations for venues that already have a tradition in that sport has provided the best opportunity for long term use of those venues after the Olympics. Where there was less of a likelihood that a venue would have a long term use in that sport, a venue was selected that was either already established for use in other ways, such as the ExCel or O2 arena, designed to be scaled down after the Olympics, such as the Aquatics Centre, or built as a temporary structure to be taken down and reused in another, more sustainable way, such as the Basketball Arena.
Combining the international focus on the venues during the games, their state of the art quality and their sustainable long term use once the games is finished will continue to provide significant opportunities for businesses linked to the venues for a long time following the games, with local, national and international events set to continue at most of the London Olympic Venues long after the Games have finished.
Opportunities For Local People
London 2012 has been working from the outset to make sure that London boroughs and other local communities that are being used as host venues see significant benefits from hosting the Olympics both throughout the event and in the long term.
There are obvious potential benefits for local people, such as significant job opportunities at the venues and in related sectors. Many jobs have been 'earmarked' specifically for local people to take up at the London venues that are open to applications from almost all people local to each venue. By making the venues sustainable in the long term, these jobs and others can also provide long term stability in the job market for many people. Local businesses will also be able to increase the number of local jobs further for the community, which will likely be long term as well as during the Games as the venues continue to be used for major events and as significant tourist attractions. With the main Olympic development in one of the areas of London most in need of regeneration, these opportunities are highly significant for the people who live in the host boroughs as well as London's prosperity as a whole.
The venues will also be centres for the local communities, not just centres of excellence set aside only for elite sports men and women. This will provide significant increased opportunities for local people to develop their sporting potential as well as increase the fitness and physical well being of the communities more generally. While these world class sports centres will provide significant opportunities for the whole of the UK to develop elite sporting potential, the greatest benefit will be found by local people who will have long term access right on their doorstep.
One of the key areas of development the venues aim to bring to local people is in education. London 2012 has been keen to work with and in schools, particularly local schools, to get involved in the Olympics. This will be achieved through a number of ways, such as free or reduced tickets to the Olympics and test events, day trips during and after construction to learn about the projects and how they are being developed, visits from past and present top UK athletes and the Olympic Mascot program, using Wenlock and Mandeville to promote the games through related activities in schools. The Olympics has the potential to be inspiring, and London 2012 hopes to use it to inspire and educate young people, particularly in the communities local to the venues which in many cases are deprived.
After the Games, the Olympic venues will becomes centres for the communities, particularly the Olympic Village, where general education for the local communities will be offered. The combination of increased job opportunities and further education for people of all ages is seen as key in providing a true legacy of regeneration of the main host boroughs of London to the real benefit of the local people.
With the cultural Olympiad that will run alongside the Olympics, there will be an opportunity for many people to get involved through their interests and passions, ranging far beyond that of sport. Many of these cultural events will centre on London and other Olympic venue sites, making the venues a focal point for people throughout the community to come together and get involved in the opportunities created. Many of these events will actually be put on by the local communities, giving them the opportunity to shape the Games themselves.
The London 2012 venues will therefore offer significant opportunities for local people to take part and be involved in the Games, with significant employment and social development that is set to last for many years afterwards.
Bsc Physical Education, Sports Science and Physics, Loughborough University
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