Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Retail courage

It was good to be able to take Ben along to observe this morning's Retail Partnership Board meeting for the first time. It was a lively one, with the usual updates about the state of the redevalopment, and discussion of the impact of riding the recession, backed as ever with up to date facts and figures. We heard about the Millennium Stadium's programme provisional plans for its tenth anniversary year. Ten years already!

I hope Ben enjoyed the meeting for the insight it offered into the world of work in the commercial sector. It remains for me one of the important features of each working month, my window into the lives of all those who make 'the retail offer' which is Cardiff city centre. It's one piece of input without which the quality of my ministry as a city centre pastor would be limited and superficial. I hope Ben sees and understands. I'm not sure how far the notion of the world's affairs determining the church's missionary agenda figures in the realm of ministry training today, as it did back in '68, when I was in Ben's place.

There's a passionate commitment to doing business in the heart of Cardiff, despite hard times and in the face of sometimes misleading and pessimistic media coverage. There's a belief it's a good place to be, with so much future potential. So it's good to consider that there's some energetic hope, even in the dark face of economic bad news. A belief that the quality and values of the city will indeed commend themselves and increase its attractiveness as a place to visit and shop in for years to come.

After all the speculation about the non-completion of the Hayes apartment blocks, we learned today that they will be built, even if they are commissioned and filled with occupants in stages. It's encouraging to know that big investors like Land Securities have a sustainable long term perspective on their holdings in the city centre. The world has suffered so badly from short-term speculation and the volatility which is thereby induced in market trading. Profit has been taken greedily as if there were no tomorrow, and now the consequences are to be faced. Nevertheless, there is a future beyond today's recession, and thankfully there are plenty of people in responsible business positions already working hard, with great commitment to secure it. It's faith, of a kind. Perhaps it has something to teach believers. After all, we believe in a God who believes in us and invests in us, long term.

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