11 Jan 2017
I’m sitting here on the first Monday after the Christmas break feeling pretty brave that I’ve decided to come back into the office, having learned that it is both economically and physically a dangerous place.
According to Nationwide Current Accounts, I’m going to have my wallet rifled to the tune of £1000 this year for birthday presents, office nights out, charity requests, leaving gifts or tea and cakes.
The latter will also likely kill me, as the sharing of confectionary has become such a contributor to the national obesity crisis that the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons is calling for a resolution to combat the office ‘cake culture’.
Well I’m afraid I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about either issue, and certainly won’t be giving up my occasional Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer any time soon. Instead I’d much rather concentrate on the positive prospects for the year ahead.
Here are a few developments for which I’ll be rooting, and which make me optimistic about doing business in Glasgow.
Early in the New Year will come the decision on planning permission for the £1billion expansion of the University of Glasgow’s campus, including the site of the old Western Infirmary. Here’s a development that will transform both the whole experience of learning at our oldest University and also the interaction between business and academic teams on exploiting research skills in disciplines as diverse as quantum technologies, personalised medicine and the future of cities.
The development promises to have a profound impact on Glasgow. It could well stimulate a new wave of innovation to build on the global contribution that the University has already made – to quote from the University’s campus proposal ‘we’ve given the world the central tenets of economics, the second law of thermodynamics, the engine of the industrial revolution; (and) antiseptic surgery’
The University of Glasgow is not alone in its expansion aspirations. Expect to see ambitious proposals for development also coming from the University of Strathclyde especially in stimulating an innovation district in the east of the City Centre and from the SECC with the next phase of its extraordinary success. And there are likely to be more projects emerging from other institutions such as Glasgow Caledonian University and the Glasgow School of Art.
We will see physical changes in the City Centre through the £1.13billion Glasgow Region City Deal. It will be a new look for Sauchiehall Street that comes first with strong support from our Sauchiehall Street Business Improvement District. We should also begin to see results emerging from the consultation work that Austin Smith Lord are facilitating for improvements in the Broomielaw, Blythswood, Central and St. Enoch neighbourhoods.
The delivery of the Sighthill Transformation Area as part of a wider master plan for the whole Canal and North Gateway project will also be prominent and will include greater physical connections to the City Centre. And there are several more projects to keep an eye out for from City Deal next year, not least the much awaited Glasgow Airport Access Project.
At the Chamber we have been strong supporters of the Buchanan Galleries project and we will be welcoming the beginning in the spring of the extensive refurbishment of Queen Street station to be sure. But we are also determined that this does not further delay a decision by Land Securities to go ahead with its £350m plans for the upgrading and expansion of the Galleries.
The World Badminton Championships will be at the Emirates Arena in August. The plans for the 2018 European Championships will also be making strong progress, and expect to see contracts emerging for delivering services and supplies in the first half of the year. The Chamber will be actively supporting business links with Berlin who are joint hosts for the Championships, so expect to hear more from us on opportunities to do business with Germany.
Nor will Germany be our only focus. The Chamber has always been a fervent supporter of international trade and investment. We will be working with the City Council to promote Glasgow at MIPIM, and with the Scottish Government to forge new relationships with Chambers such as those we already have in Manhattan and Milan and to expand our overseas Presidents Club. Expect us to be making new announcements as the year unfolds.
That’s just a very small flavour of what lies ahead. I know there are many, many more members with investment plans for 2017. Please let us know so we can tell the whole Chamber membership.