History and Overview of Hillingdon Chamber
Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce was originally set up in 1908. In 1990 our current Chair, Mike Langan, was invited along with Roger Williams to a Chamber event at the Nave in Uxbridge and Mike thereafter became involved in the Chamber. Shortly afterwards both Mike and Roger attended a Chamber Committee meeting at which the Secretary, Treasurer and Chairman resigned, and Roger took over as Chair and Mike as Treasurer. At that time the Chamber consisted of approximately 10 members and was ran from Roger’s office. There was a chain of office for Uxbridge and West Drayton Chamber of Commerce which is stored at Uxbridge Library.
Stockley Park Estates became members and regular meetings were hosted by them during the development of Stockley Park. The Chamber was incorporated in 1999 and Mike took over as Chairman in the year 2000. Over the next 4-5 years the Chamber grew by over 100 members. Jonathan Seymour the current Treasurer joined the Chamber in 2004 and Frazine Johnson who is now a Vice Chair, became a Director.In 2006 Ruislip Manor Chamber of Commerce became officially affiliated with Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce and Les Drussell, who is still a valued member, joined the Committee. RMCC’s key objective is to raise the profile of Ruislip Manor and be the voice of local business throughout the Manor Ward. This has been accomplished by improving the overall look of the High Street with new shop fronts, paving and street lighting, which was achieved through local authority funding.
In 2010 Hayes Chamber of Commerce became affiliated to Hillingdon Chamber and changed their name to Hayes Business Forum. Hayes Town Development Group was set up and HCC has served on the Committee since its inception along with Uxbridge College and Jonathan Seymour of Kingston Smith. HCC also continues to assist the HBF advisory committee.
Hillingdon Chamber was instrumental in setting up Eastcote Chamber. This Chamber successfully ran for a few years but due to personal changes of the people involved in the management of the Chamber unfortunately no longer exists. HCC has also attempted to set-up a chamber in Northwood.
In 1994 West London Business was formed whose aim was to draw together the local Chambers from Hillingdon, Richmond, Hounslow, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Brent to be a regional Chamber and HCC played a pivotal role in setting this up. Although the Chamber has remained independent it retains its close working relationship with WLB.
HCC regularly met with Business Link, a government funded business advice and guidance service in England set up by Michael Heseltine, which was axed in 2011. Since that time the Chamber has endeavoured to sign post businesses requiring help to various sources, including the Business Support Programme run by the Council and the Community Fund which gives businesses and individuals details of the fund and other sources to help businesses and projects.
The work of the Chamber in the local community
Over many years the Chamber has been involved in local planning issues such as the expansion of Heathrow, Hillingdon House Farm, Warners, RAF Uxbridge, the Nestles site in Hayes and Uxbridge Shopping Centre and canvasses its members for their views on local planning issues. It heavily campaigned and achieved the ½ hour free parking for residents which became part of the Hillingdon First Card to encourage people to use the High Street and in turn help businesses.
The Chamber is a member of the Local Strategic Partnership which is made up of key partners in the Borough including Heathrow, Uxbridge College, the Police and Hillingdon Council and has a working relationship with London Chambers.
HCC actively encourages young people by attending local education establishments to help with interview and social skills and inspire them to perhaps set up their own business. The Chamber has also provided work experience and projects for students and recently introduced a special favourable rate for young start-ups.
Several members of the Committee have been on judging panels for both business and young enterprise awards and regularly judges the West London Business Awards.
Networking & Our Partners
The Chamber works with many partners within Hillingdon such as Uxbridge College, Kingston Smith London Borough of Hillingdon, Ward Williams, Heathrow, Metro Bank, Handelsbanken, Bird and Lovibond, by providing networking opportunities for businesses and seminars/training etc. and has recently set up a series of seminars with NatWest Bank on topics such as social media and marketing. HCC also has a close working relationship and has a representative from Heathrow Airport on the Committee. Members have been canvassed about their views on the airport expansion and HCC has been involved with the Heathrow Business Summit for the whole of 27 years it has been running.
The Chamber has provided many networking opportunities over the years including the MPs breakfast, the annual Mayor’s reception, cybercrime with the Metropolitan Police, Summer Chamber Networking BBQ, tours and networking at West London Film Studios, and the Global Academy to name but a few.
The Chamber today
Hillingdon Chamber continues to grow and has increased its membership to approximately 300 which includes affiliated memberships.
The organisation this year of the 5th Hillingdon Business Expo which is the biggest free business fair in the Country, was carried out by the Chamber in conjunction with Brunel university. The event welcomed over 1500 visitors and 100 exhibitions and the feedback received has been extremely positive. The Chamber has sat on the organising Committee since its inception 5 years ago.
The Chamber is currently working with West London Film studios on their expansion which will raise the profile of the whole area and will bring work and opportunities for many businesses and residents.
HCC will shortly be inviting its members and key partners in the borough to bi-monthly businesses at the Charter building in Uxbridge. The lunches will be an opportunity to gain information on potential business on some of the major projects which will be in Hillingdon over the next few years. Hillingdon Chamber is currently working on setting up a local supply chain which will have many benefits for local businesses, and it is hoped will be launched later this year.