17 Sep 2018
From the beginning of the City Deal Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has been supportive of its aims to increase economic output and expand job numbers in the regional economy.
Glasgow need no longer be presented as a city regenerating or moving towards recovery.
Our population is up by 37,000 in the last five years, employment increased by 70,000 between 2012 and 2016, we have 20,000 more companies over the last seven years and international tourist visits are up 19% in the last year to record levels.
Over-dependence on heavy engineering is gone. We are a diversified urban economy with evolving strengths in financial and business services, digital technology, creative industries, health and life sciences and a new generation of engineering technologies.
But whilst there is a positive story we are not very good at telling it. Almost every city is described economically by its comparative advantages - how should we answer that question for Glasgow?
The fact that City Deal has pulled together eight local authorities that capture over 90% of the Glasgow regional labour market is a major development. Agreeing shared priorities for future economic success must help build the case for investment and, like Manchester, argue not just for this City Deal but for a City Deal 2.
Business was involved in the creation of City Deal 1, but many organisations and individuals felt the consultation was insufficient.
We have the Glasgow Economic Leadership board and its industry workstreams which offer strategic advice to the City Council on growing the economy and the Glasgow Partnership for Economic Growth which pulls key partners together to implement action plans. These should both be usefully engaged in the forward thinking for City Deal 1.
We also have the Regional Business Board chaired by Lord Haughey upon which I have the privilege of sitting. That is tackling its task of attracting £3billion of private investment in a different way – actively and directly pursuing investment opportunities.
But there is always scope for opening the process to those who don’t currently participate in the formal structures. My own inclination would be to begin the debate on what a City Deal 2 would look like with open invitations to the business community to participate.
We could spend our time criticising what has been done in City Deal 1. It would seem more in character for an ambitious Glasgow to look to consider what comes next.