Olympian Sebastian Coe has told business leaders from Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce about the transformative impact a major international event can have.
Lord Coe spoke to more than 300 businesses as part of the Chamber’s BIG Business ‘Thank You’ Lunch.
Lord Coe, who is a multi-Olympic medallist and headed up the London Olympics in 2012, highlighted to businesses the major commercial and social benefits that the Games brought to London.
He discussed how he believes the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is set to bring a similar boost to Coventry, Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands.
The lunch event, held at the IXL Events Centre in Southam, had been postponed on two occasions as a result of the pandemic and was held as a ‘thank you’ to the business community for supporting the Chamber of Commerce.
Lord Coe also spoke about the impact Warwickshire had on him in his formative years and the important role that Chambers of Commerce plays in regions across the country.
He said: “It’s such an extraordinary opportunity to host an international event such as the Commonwealth Games, and not just for Birmingham but for the whole region.
“The potential legacy after the games is very exciting, but it will challenge a region in a way nothing has challenged it before.
“People should not underestimate the impact this area connecting with the Commonwealth Games will have.
“It will be a great vehicle for change and things will happen immediately afterwards – for example in London, the Olympic games were worth nearly £17 million in overseas trade in the year afterwards.
“Companies that had a successful involvement and partnership with the games were then able to go out and sell their services.
“I’m absolutely convinced this region will make the most of this opportunity that sits in front of you. The great role the Chamber of Commerce can play as a conduit between the public and private sectors will be important.
“Partnerships we set up between public and private organisations in the London boroughs are still delivering great services in those area, and so often it was the Chambers of Commerce that facilitated the creation of those relationships.”
Lord Coe lived in Warwickshire from the age of one, initially in Redditch, before moving to Alcester and then Stratford-upon-Avon
“This is an area that was quite important to me, my father ran a manufacturing business in the region. It was also where I achieved my first ever top three finish in a race, as part of a Warwickshire schools’ competition at the age of 10,” he said.
“As a young MP, the Chamber of Commerce were really helpful in introducing me to commercial organisations, which would probably have taken me a term of office to understand the nature of local business without the Chamber.
“I know I will echo many when I thank the Chamber of Commerce for keeping spirits high in business over the dark months and years we have been through. The Chamber is always there and it has an even greater role to play moving forwards.”
Tom Mongan, President of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Chamber members to our ‘thank you’ lunch after a couple of incredibly difficult years.
“Lord Coe inspired a generation of people and it was an honour to welcome him as our special guest.”
Pictured (left to right): Tom Mongan, Lord Coe, Louise Bennett