Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has urged local entrepreneurs "to seize the opportunities that the Olympics will create for you, for your businesses and for Southwark".
The Dulwich and West Norwood MP was the keynote speaker at the Southwark Business Conference at Glaziers Hall on Tuesday morning organised by Southwark Chamber of Commerce and supported by Better Bankside.
"The Olympic Games are a £6.1 billion shot in the arm for the British economy: creating jobs, preserving jobs, keeping order books full, keeping small and medium-sized businesses in business," she said.
According to the minister 32 Southwark businesses are already supplying the Olympic Delivery Authority directly. She urged local enterprises to use the Olympics to improve their competitive edge.
"We don't want to look back in 2013 and wish we'd done more and wonder why all that opportunity went elsewhere."
Leading local commercial property agent Richard Kalmar asked Ms Jowell to clarify what benefits Southwark would derive from the 2012 games.
"There are already commercial hotel developments in the north of the borough that almost certainly would not have gone ahead if it was not for the prospect of the 2012 Olympic games," replied Ms Jowell.
"There are no specific Olympic venues in Southwark ... but the opportunities to contribute to the London-wide games effort are enormous."
She also highlighted the obligation on Southwark Council to have a 2012 physical activity plan to get people walking, cycling and taking exercise, as well as the opportunity for some of Southwark's "undiscovered gems" to become major tourist attractions in Olympics year.
"There are plenty of opportunities that will come from the Olympics for Southwark businesses, but I think that also – in the words of JF Kennedy – you want to ask what Southwark businesses are going to do for the Olympics and for London at this time of unprecedented opportunity."
Richard Lee, director of the Jerwood Space, asked about the impact of the Olympics on arts funding in the years running up to 2012.
Ruth Brothwell of London 2012 set the scene of the London 2012 supply chains and explained how small businesses could maximise their chances of successfully tendering for work.
The conference was also addressed by Brian Groom of the Southwark Bridge-based Financial Times who gave an upbeat assessment that London will recover quickly from the current recession.
Rachel Elnaugh, founder of Red Letter Days and former 'Dragon's Den' panellist, told delegates that she doesn't believe that Britain is in a recession but rather a "massive period of change" which will see old-style capitalism give way to a new spirit of collaboration and social enterprise.
She shared 10 tips for doing business in the current climate:
• Is your business worth saving?
• Don't let the doom and gloom get to you
• Why aren't they buying?
• Is your marketing working hard enough?
• Banks aren't the only form of finance
• Money is not the only form of wealth
• Spend time every day thinking and planning
• Get help
• Don't let the fear get to you
• "In every adversity lies the seeds of opportunity"