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Chambers who make a world of difference to their communities

I mentioned in the previous blog that the Chamber went across to Turin to compete at the World Chamber of Commerce Congress - shortlisted in a category for business development and job creation projects alongside four other Chambers from Belgium, Turkey, Australia and Colombia. 

It’s the first time that Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has taken part in the World Congress, and we were presenting our work on tackling youth unemployment which led to us being the first regional group chosen to deliver the Scottish Government’s local strategy for investing in the young workforce. 

In Turin, we told the story of our members grouping together to lead an action group, making recommendations on what it would take to get more young folk into work, and converting those recommendations into action with the launch of the Glasgow Invest in Young People group earlier in the year.

Chambers of Commerce worldwide come in all shapes and sizes. Some are voluntary, city-based organisations like Glasgow, some are public law bodies with statutory backing (which means every business is obliged to join), and others play regulatory roles and take a regional or even a national perspective.

Some are long-established with a proud heritage, others are much newer to the Chamber world. Common throughout is a passion for trade, all believing in the power of free trade to bring countries closer together, grow our economies and create wealth and jobs. 

But there is also a hugely inspiring strand of common practice in encouraging our members to give back to the community.  Again and again Chambers told stories of the projects they were supporting to help those with less opportunity to become part of their growing economies.

We didn’t win the competition. The Kocaeli Chamber of Commerce in Turkey took the title with a project supporting disabled survivors of the 1999 earthquake in the Kocaeli region, which hit 7.6 on the Richter scale and killed 17,000 people.  The local Chamber ran a programme to help get many of the surviving victims into jobs. It was a worthy winner.

We may not have won, but we learnt an enormous amount and met many new Chamber colleagues from all across the globe.    

We also took the opportunity to meet up with our friends in Torino including former city mayor Valentino Castellani, who took us to see the first outlet of the Eataly chain.  Eataly’s first store was set up in 2007 by Oscar Farinetti in a derelict vermouth factory covering some 30,000 feet. Yes indeed, 30,000 square feet!

If you can imagine a B&Q for high quality Italian food that’s Eataly. It has at least nine different no- nonsense restaurants where you can then buy all the ingredients of the dishes you have just eaten.

In fact you can buy just about every aspect of the Italian food experience including the wine, the cheese, the utensils, the recipe books, the chocolates and of course every conceivable form of pasta.  Look out for the stores across Italy and now in the US as well.  I haven’t spotted one in the UK yet.

The next Chambers Congress is in 2017 in Sydney.  Should we have another go?

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