The City of Helsinki Business Liaisons. Picture: Sakari Röyskö

Business liaisons promote dialogue between businesses and the city

This autumn marked the third anniversary of the City of Helsinki business liaison operations. Business liaisons increase cooperation between the city and businesses by providing advice and information about the city’s services to businesses and by gathering views and wishes from the business community.

The basis of the City of Helsinki business liaison operations comes from the results of the telephone survey of Helsinki-based companies, which is carried out every two years. Before the start of the business liaison operations, businesses wanted the city to listen to their views, reduce bureaucracy and organise active cooperation to promote businesses. These are the things business liaisons are working to make happen. They identify individual business needs and find solutions to them, create networking opportunities for businesses and share information.  

Cooperation at the heart of business liaison operations

Business liaisons make it easier for businesses to find the right partners among the city’s operators. Business liaisons help entrepreneurs with land use and permit matters as well as workforce and skills needs. They also promote business cooperation and develop regional networks of entrepreneurs. Helsinki’s three business liaisons are each responsible for their own areas of expertise.

Helsinki is developed together with experts and companies from different sectors. The City of Helsinki wants to support and strengthen this interaction. The importance of cooperation is underlined in a city recovering from the pandemic. To bounce back on its growth trajectory, the city needs to be attentive and in close interaction with the business community.

“For example, the cultural and restaurant industries have an important role to play in the post-pandemic recovery of customer flows. The city thrives on the experience economy.” says City of Helsinki’s Business Liaison Jukka-Pekka Tolvanen, who specialises in the cultural, restaurant and leisure service operators.

Business liaisons are not the only liaisons in the city. Business liaisons also work together actors such as the borough liaisons, who promote citizen participation and interaction. The borough liaisons operate in all of Helsinki’s major districts and help citizens in their area to find the right channels of influence and information, guidance and advice on issues such as participatory budgeting. In other words, where borough liaisons activate residents, business liaisons guide entrepreneurs. Cooperation with borough liaisons will increase opportunities for business participation and networking, especially at regional level. It also supports interaction with regional business organisations and networks.

The interaction between borough liaisons and business liaisons is just one example of the core of business liaison operations – cooperation.

Hotline between city and businesses

Business liaison operations have evolved and changed in three years.

“In addition to responding to the needs of businesses, active information sharing and interaction has emerged. We have found that the more companies know about the opportunities and services Helsinki has to offer to entrepreneurs, the more likely they are to recommend Helsinki to other businesses,” says Business Liaison Jukka-Pekka Tolvanen.

Over the past three years, businesses have become more aware of the business liaison operations. Business liaisons provide an effective and direct channel of communication, a kind of hotline, between the city and businesses. Jukka-Pekka Tolvanen urges companies to feel free to contact business liaisons also in the future:

“Business liaisons can be approached freely and with a low threshold if you need advice on, for example, city services or networking. It is also worth sharing your ideas for development openly. Interaction increases understanding on both sides.”

The Helsinki business liaisons are here for businesses and entrepreneurs. The easiest way to reach them is by email at: yritysluotsit@hel.fi.

Further information on the borough liaisons is available here.

Picture: The City of Helsinki Business Liaisons. Heidi Lihr’s specialised area of responsibility is employment, education and training. Jukka-Pekka Tolvanen is responsible for the restaurant, cultural and leisure service operators. Suvi Tuiskunen’s role as a business liaison specialising in land use and permits is currently held by Robin Easton. (Sakari Röyskö)