New resource centre to help upgrade heartland businesses to attract younger customers

Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry Chee Hong Tat, giving a speech at Singapore Heartland Enterprise Seminar on June 24, 2019.
Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry Chee Hong Tat, giving a speech at Singapore Heartland Enterprise Seminar on June 24, 2019.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

SINGAPORE - Heartland business operators like Mr Guan Qing will now get help to cope with changing consumer behaviour, among other challenges.

The general manager at TCM company Sinchong Meheco, part of the Ang Mo Kio Constituency Merchants' Association, said: "Young people don't really believe in Traditional Chinese Medicine nowadays - we're trying to focus on digital marketing but as a single company, what we can achieve is limited due to high costs."

A study conducted in 2017 by the Federation of Merchants' Association Singapore (FMAS) showed that the three key challenges faced by heartland businesses are changing consumer behaviours and needs, increased competition as well as the lack of knowledge to engage younger consumers.

And to help these neighbourhood businesses, a dedicated centre that will digitalise these businesses to make them more enticing to young consumers and potential enterprisers was officially launched on Monday (June 24).

The new Heartland Enterprise Centre (HECS) will not only help transform businesses but also make public spaces more vibrant.

"With the HECS, we hope that other shops in the same healthcare trade can work on marketing together and reach out to a larger audience," said Mr Guan, 32.

The new centre, supported by the FMAS, will work with merchant associations and government agencies to not only help modernise businesses and upgrade the workforce, but also improve public spaces, and make the areas more distinct.

There are more than 15,000 heartland enterprises in 14 town centres in Singapore.

To kickstart the rejuvenation plan for heartland centres, HECS will work closely with merchants' associations in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok Centre as a pilot project, and expand its services to other precincts in the future.

The centre also plans to roll out push carts manned by students and entrepreneurs to increase the variety of goods and products sold.

"This effort is intended to help raise the competitiveness and attractiveness of our heartland precincts and enterprises," said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat, who launched the HECS.

"I hope that by the end of this journey, we can have precincts with unique characteristics, that can draw people around the island and even some tourists to come experience heartland enterprises, a critical part of Singapore life," he added.

The centre, set up in March, is funded by Enterprise Singapore. Those who need support can call 6741 4670 or email enquiries@hecs.com.sg