The woman leading the bid to revitalise the Colwyn area has vowed to help businesses bring in more shoppers, visitors and investment.
Anna Openshaw is project manager of Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID) – the biggest in the UK – which includes Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, Mochdre and Rhos on Sea.
Businesses voted to set up the BID, a non-for-profit social enterprise, where firms pay a levy and the cash raised is used for projects to boost trade.
Anna has moved from Conwy County Borough Council, where she worked as a business mentor and helped firms to develop skills training for staff, and is part of the team that staged the successful Gorjys Secret Festival in the Conwy Valley.
The 39-year-old Welsh speaker was born and raised in Old Colwyn, where she still lives with her family.
“I’m constantly surprised by the wide range of services available in the Bay of Colwyn. One of my goals is to encourage people to shop locally and make them aware of what’s on right here on their doorstep.
“BID is essentially a business run by a collection of businesses. It’s also a social enterprise which is not for profit and has the aim of improving the area and increasing profitability for local businesses.
“Local solicitor Huw Edwards is the BID chairman and we’re backed up by a team of directors, plus a steering committee, so I get plenty of chances to discuss matters with the BID members. To be successful, the BID has to be run by collective agreement with the support of all those in the area.
“The projects we’re currently working on include street signage, maintenance of shopfronts and the possible development of an app for Colwyn businesses. We are also looking at ways of promoting the BID area, both locally and further afield to remind day trippers and tourists how this area has developed since they last visited, and bringing in new and exciting events.
“As project manager I spend my time identifying projects that will improve the BID area, applying for external funding, speaking to all kinds of businesses and making sure the projects that have been agreed for the BID are delivered successfully and on time.
“My targets are to create opportunities for smaller businesses, to develop the profile of the seaside and leisure offer in the Bay of Colwyn, to highlight the key businesses which are destinations in their own right as well as creating an experience that is unique and distinctively ‘the Bay of Colwyn’.
“The BID is aiming to increase footfall, with more people shopping locally, to increase sales especially for those hidden from view, highlight attract more visitors with higher occupancy levels in hotels and guest houses, to create a bigger online presence for the area and ensure more apprenticeships are being offered by companies. The BID team is also working towards a drop in anti-social behaviour and crime, plus improving street frontages, signage and IT links.”
“We are based in Wynnstay Road in Colwyn Bay, though much of my time is spent meeting traders and businesses in the area, listening to their concerns, looking at how we can support them and discussing possible initiatives.
“It’s a big area – two square miles – and there are a lot of people to see and talk to. However, I do know many of them thanks to my previous role with Team Conwy.
“Also, I’m always keen to meet those business which are off the beaten track to ensure everybody is fully supported. It’s not a nine-to-five job, as there are also meetings in the evening, once companies have closed their doors to customers.
“It’s the perfect job for me because it fits in with my aspirations to be a real people person.”
The mum-of-three also runs her own events management company with three partners.
“One of the events we organised was the Gorjys Festival at Caer Rhun Hall in the Conwy Valley last summer. We were delighted to win Best Newcomer Award at the inaugural Go North Wales Tourism Awards, and we’ve got plans to stage the festival again this year.”