Hugely important to keep Ironman in Bay

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As the country faces tough economic times, Nelson Mandela Bay needs every scrap of investment it can get and this is partly why it is so important for the city to retain the Standard Bank Ironman Championships.It is not just about the pride of showcasing our beautiful region to millions around the world, nor is it solely about providing a top-notch destination for thousands of international athletes and their support crew.These are part of its significance, of course, but the reason mayor Mongameli Bobani and acting municipal manager Noxolo Nqwazi have been so active in trying to secure the competition contract for a further three years is that the event brings in money.The Herald reported on Monday that the metro council must still approve the final agreement, but quoted Bobani as saying this was an event the city “can never lose”.The memorandum of intent includes a plan for an independently run incubator, overseen by Ironman South Africa and the municipality, to transfer skills to small business enterprises.It is an excellent idea which now must become a reality. The Summerstrand Business Forum claims it was promised in 2018 work for the event and accused Ironman SA figures of reneging on this promise.This cannot be allowed to happen again as it led to SMMEs threatening to shut down construction of the race village only days before the event in 2019.After all, there are other SA cities who are waiting in the wings to take over the event. Durban, for one, has been hosting a successful half-Ironman championship for several years and would be a likely contender.It is hard to calculate the impact of Ironman on the metro over the past 15 years, but it has indisputably been immense. Sadly, however, it has not necessarily been of visible benefit to many of the poorer residents of the metro.We hope this new agreement will help to provide training and skills which lead to sustainable employment opportunities for the SMMEs they are geared towards.

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