Did Norfolk businesses strike gold with the Olympics?

The Games may be over and we can only marvel at the sporting triumphs of the last two and a bit weeks. But to what extent did Norfolk businesses strike gold as a result of the Olympics?

Officially we will not know for some time, although a joint study between Norfolk County Council and UEA is under way looking at the local economic legacy of London 2012.

Businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk were among the first to win contracts following the announcement that the Olympics would be staged in London.

Norwich-based Harrison Environmental was appointed as one of three companies to carry out the ground investigation of a number of sites across the Olympic Park and was the first ground investigation company to break ground on the project in December 2005 with a cable percussive drilling rig on Hackney allotments.

More than 300,000 wetland plants were grown for the Olympic Park by Salix at a specially developed nursery in Thetford.


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Other firms securing notable contract wins linked to the Games include Norse Group's security operation EventGuard, Lowestoft-based Harrod UK, for supplying goals and team shelters for the football and hockey tournaments, and a second Lowestoft firm, Hughes Electrical, which secured a leasing deal to provide televisions and white goods to the Olympic Village.

Portaramp UK, based at Shadwell, near Thetford, received orders to manufacuture 300 specialist access ramp products from London Underground, Heathrow Airport owners BAA, First Group and a number of train operating companies ferrying passengers into London for the Games.

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Garboldisham firm Mervyn Lambert Plant provided large electronic signs to deliver live traffic information around the Olympic Park in east London as well as an electronic information board for drivers ferrying athletes around the Olympic Village.

During the Games itself Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman was flying the flag for Norfolk businesses – particularly life sciences.

However, some will wonder if it may have turned out to be a missed opportunity for the county despite its proximity to the Games itself.

One key frustration was strict rules by Games organisers LOCOG prevented many companies from revealing whether they had secured deals.

Meanwhile in January it emerged only 4pc of Norfolk firms signed up to the CompeteFor process to bid for smaller contracts which saw Norfolk trailing a clear last place with 27 contracts worth �230,000 compared to �7.9m worth of contracts won in 29 Suffolk deals amid suggestions Norfolk firms may have been put off by the red tape involved.

Much was made of the potential tourism boost of the Games as visitors taking a break from the Games opted to take a break in Norfolk and Suffolk. It is not yet clear what boost, if any, there has been for the tourism sector which has faced an early season struggle in the wake of wet weather.

It may well be that the biggest boost was locally. The arrival of the Olympic Flame in Norfolk brought a clear economic stimulus with Norwich City Council estimating it was worth �3.5m as more than 100,000 people headed into the city over a four day period to watch it and enjoy the Lord Mayor's celebrations. That could yet be repeated on a smaller scale as the Olympic legacy may yet bring out even greater crowds for the forthcoming Tour of Britain cycling whose opening stage starts in Suffolk and Norfolk on September.

But the starting gun on the long-term legacy has only just been fired.

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