The Spring Breakfast 2021

The Company of Entrepreneurs has a tradition of addressing contemporary business issues at an annual gather of Freemen and guests in the Spring. The Spring Breakfast (occasionally a lunch) takes place on the Tuesday after Mothering Sunday, and Freemen are nourished both physically and intellectually by good food and a good speaker.

With gathering and travelling still restricted by the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Spring Breakfast took place on the morning of Tuesday 16th March via Zoom. Although the quality of the self-catering may have varied, the quality of the speaker was not in doubt as the Master Entrepreneur, Mr Lars Andersen, welcomed Sheriff Chris Hayward to speak on Enterprise – Opportunities and Challenges in the City of London.

Sheriff Hayward, continuing the 2020-21 theme of the “Entrepreneurs and the City of London”, expounded on the work of the Corporation in response to COVID-19, to Brexit, and to the City’s support as a local authority for entrepreneurs and SMEs. After a broad summary of the City of London Corporation’s responsibilities within the Square Mile, Sheriff Hayward touched on some of the City’s interests across Greater London – schools (including 10 sponsored through the City of London Academies Trust), housing estates and over 11,000 acres of green space. It was a surprise to some guests to learn the diversity of the Corporation’s portfolio, including the animal reception centre at Heathrow, the Port Health Authority for the Thames and responsibility for five of the bridges over the Thames. He spoke with great warmth about the Central Criminal Court, where he and his fellow Sheriff, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, are serving their second consecutive year in office – the first Sheriffs since the 13th Century to do so.

But it was about issues in the business environment of the City of London that the audience wanted to hear, and Sheriff Hayward had prepared an impressive rollcall of the Corporation’s achievements and improvements to encourage and nurture growth businesses in the City. Sheriff Hayward reported that the Common Council had created a new COVID Business Recovery Fund of up to £50 million to help businesses within the Square Mile that have faced exceptionally challenging trading conditions. There was interest from Freemen to hear more of the repurposing of the City Business Library  – with its new focus and new title of “Small Business Research and Enterprise Centre”. This, he said, was an important stage in the Library’s evolution, which had already included a wide range of free webinars aimed at SMEs, in addition to offering one to one business advice sessions, and access to free business information and market research data to support the many SMEs who need reliable information to make informed business decisions.

The questions came thick and fast following Sheriff Hayward’s remarks, ranging from the regulatory impact of Brexit to local governmental administration of elections. Impressively knowledgeable, Freemen and guests certainly appreciated this opportunity to learn yet more about the City’s unique role, and looked forward with great anticipation to next year’s Spring Lunch, which will be on Tuesday 29th March 2022.

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