TWO thirds of successful business leaders believe the Olympic Games will leave a positive legacy for the UK – with Portland and Weymouth businesses making sure they don’t miss out on the opportunities on offer.
The figures come from the second Millionaire Monitor, an annual survey of 500-plus millionaires and multi- millionaires by Skandia.
According to the financial experts, 69.4 per cent of the entrepreneurs surveyed think London 2012 will boost the economy – leading to more business sites, space and amenities, competitive supply-chains, a world class infrastructure and exposure to the international spotlight.
One company determined to make the most of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is Weymouth-based firm DJ Property.
The largest provider of commercial property in South Dorset with more than 160 properties on their books, DJ Property operates the Granby industrial estate and is building a new, 10-acre site called Link Park on the Chickerell Link Road.
Owner Mickey Jones says the legacy of the Games for the region depended on the £89m relief road opened last year.
“The relief road is the big thing – that gets people in and out of this part of South Dorset much quicker and will be the legacy benefit for this region, but there’s also the intelligent traffic signals, car parking, real time information boards at the bus stops, the Olympic cycle network, the fibre optic network that has been delivered locally – all these are huge enablers for business in South Dorset,” says the 39-year-old.
“They’ve also doubled the number of train services to London and you can’t underestimate that – the real benefit of the Games will be felt five, 10 and 15 years down the track.
“The cameras pan over the Jurassic Coast, which is one of the most amazing coastlines in the world and millions of viewers see Chesil Beach, the Isle of Portland and tourism and hospitality will benefit tremendously.
“Lots of people may not make much money this year as some regulars keep away because it is busy, but you have got to realise awareness will be up for decades.
“Previously regional businesses or national chains wouldn’t put a depot in Weymouth because the journey time to Dorchester was too long and variable, and the road was prone to congestion but now it’s a guaranteed 15 to 20 minutes at any time of day, and it has become a hub for South Dorset.
“The benefit for local companies is they know how long it is going to take to get in and out – journey times are much more predictable.
“We are very competitive down here, rents are not high, property is affordable – why does business have to be in a city? You could see pockets of knowledge-based businesses arriving here, as long as people can commute into London for meetings.”
Tris Best, 33, is director of the Official Test Centre (OTC) UK, located within the grounds of the National Sailing Academy on Portland.
Opening its first site in Tenerife in 2006, the Centre offers brands and consumers the chance to test and evaluate windsurfing equipment.
“The reality is if the Olympics hadn’t come to town, we wouldn’t be here,” reveals Best, former features editor at Windsurf Magazine.
“If the Olympic bid hadn’t been successful the area wouldn’t have been developed into what it is now, a world class venue. It’s a far cry from Athens and Sydney where the Olympic windsurfing was a two-week thing, in the build-up they spent a lot of money but there was nothing there at the end of it.
“As far as windsurfing is concerned, Portland has always been known as user-friendly and accessible but developing the pontoons, the breakwater and most of all the slipways means we have a venue and hosting area we can be proud of for many years to come.
“It’s enabled us to significantly develop part of the business,and we now have an RYA-accredited training centre that provides access to everyone from complete beginners to pro clinics allowing us to cater for all abilities.
“The British mentality and character has been a breath of fresh air and everything is negotiable if they can see where you are going and they will work together with you.”
The business, which has up to five members of staff during the peak season of May to October, derives around 65 per cent of its income stream in the UK from the training school and turns over around £150,000 a year.
The OTC and other businesses are having to leave the site during the Olympics while it is used for competition, but Tris praises LOCOG for paying for branding on their semi- permanent home to be removed and providing flatbed trucks and cranes to transport equipment.
“We’ve capitalised on the natural resources of one of the best areas for sailing on the south coast to create a man-made centre of excellence,” he adds. Skandia’s Millionaire Monitor found that regeneration of deprived areas of London was the main bonus of the Games for 26.3 per cent of those surveyed, while 15.7 per cent believed there would be increased confidence in the UK as a centre of excellence.
Males and those aged over 50 were the most polarised as to whether the Games would leave a lasting legacy, with 39 per cent of men saying there would be no legacy, which increased to 40.7 per cent for the over 50s.
By Ric Summer