Mark Pawsey is Member of Parliament for Rugby. Follow him on Twitter.
For millions of people up and down the country it’s back to work after 17 days of unforgettable entertainment with many left wondering: what happens now? Quite rightly the buzz word to these games has been “legacy”. Indeed, London 2012 is widely praised as the first Olympics to have such a strong focus on what happens after the games have gone, not just when Jessica Ennis is lighting up the stadium. And this insistence on a sporting legacy is very welcome. Our young children have been given new role models over the last two weeks, and the prospect of increased participation in sport and exercise is a happy one.
But Britain must build another legacy: a business legacy. London 2012 has given us the perfect opportunity to showcase British industry. The Government has already made positive strides in this direction. In establishing the British Business Embassy, this Government has laid down a marker for the future to say this country is open for business. Here’s hoping the relationships forged at events in Lancaster House over the last few weeks will bring about new and rewarding business contracts in the future.
ut we as a country need to keep pushing. There is currently a great deal of goodwill towards Britain, and the question for us is how we can best take advantage of this. I hope UK companies, and in particular those involved in manufacturing, will be sending their top sales teams to all corners of the world to capitalise. In the UK we have some of the best and most dynamic sales people in the world, and they have the potential to unlock new business that is simply waiting for us. Yet, sadly, trade figures released in the last few days showed a record trade deficit of £4.3bn for the month of June alone. And given the current economic conditions, we should be looking to exports to provide the boost this country requires by trading our way out of recession.
Depending on your source, the cost of the Olympics was between £9 and £11 billion. Whilst it may be difficult to quantify benefits such as the improved health of the nation, this outlay has the potential to reap rewards in the future. Imagine, if you will, a company spending £10bn on global advertising. (For context, in 2011 it is believed the international IT giant, Apple, spent £440 million on advertising). They would expect to see a serious rate of return on their investment. They’d seize every opportunity that came their way and wouldn’t stop until that investment had paid off. This is the attitude we must adopy. £10bn may be money well spent if we look on it as the most extensive advertising campaign in history. The Prime Minister said recently that he expects Britain to benefit from £13bn worth of contracts over the next four years that we would not have won if it wasn’t for London 2012. Let’s make every effort to reach and exceed this figure.
And what of the handover of the flag from Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes? That should signal more than just the link between our two nations as host cities. It presents a bond between an established economy and one of the world’s leading emerging economies. We should be courting growth economies like Brazil, Russia, India and China, the economic powerhouses of the future. This handover has given us a unique opportunity with one of them, and we should not be embarrassed to showcase to them whatever help our experts can give them in the years ahead. As the previous holder of the games we have technical, engineering and marketing expertise that would benefit Brazil immeasurably.
It is right that legacy now takes centre stage after the sporting events have come to an end. But it is not just a sporting legacy that this country needs. We must commit to a business legacy for London 2012.