Saskia van Ham (19960044) - A tsunami of questions

Saskia van Ham (19960044) - A tsunami of questions

I can still remember it so well, that second day of the first lockdown. As Economic Affairs, we normally have contact at daily basis with entrepreneurs at the Municipality of Groningen, but from day two the amount of questions we received was unprecedented. It looked like a tsunami.

Hospitality entrepreneurs, with all kinds of questions, supermarkets who wanted to extend their opening hours, requests for deferment of payment or remission of taxes. You name it and we received questions about it. How do we deal with this as a municipality? How can we make a decision as quickly as possible, which communication channels are the most effective? Who do we put on which job? What does the national government, the security region say? How do we translate this to municipal level and entrepreneurs as quickly as possible?

It was bizarre and it still is. It is a constant search, change, adapt, try to look ahead, but above all we have to keep listening. And translate and look at what is possible. For our entrepreneurs, for our city. We’ve now had two financial aid packages, where we as a municipality are also looking at how we can support entrepreneurs in these crazy times. And we are working hard on an economic recovery plan to limit the damage that COVID has caused in terms of economy and employment. We do this in collaboration with our partners from the business world such as Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (Royal hospitality Netherlands), Groninger City Club or VNO NCW (Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers), many diverse entrepreneurs, but also the University of Groningen, Campus Groningen and fellow Economic Affairs G6 such as Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam. We are not only focusing on recovery as soon as possible, but also on creating the new jobs of the future in the energy sector and healthcare. We can only do this together and at the same time it often feels very unfair that the consequences of this pandemic have such a severe financial impact on a specific part of the population.

In the meantime, we are already looking ahead, tackling the challenges of the future. In the down-to-earth way that you would expect from Groningers: Enough with the talking, time for action. Take a look at the short clip below.

Saskia van Ham (19960044), Hoofd Economische Zaken bij Gemeente Groningen.

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