Glasgow City Region Progresses at Pace | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
Kevin Rush, Glasgow City Council
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Glasgow City Region Progresses at Pace

Kevin Rush, Director of Regional Economic Growth, outlines progress being made and how the City Deal is stimulating further growth and investment. 

Glasgow City Region is one of the largest in the UK, with a population of 1.8 million living within 45 minutes of Glasgow city centre. Our economy generates over £40 billion per annum, 42% of our residents are educated to degree level and unemployment is at its lowest since records began. Having learned the lessons from previous recessions, we have developed a broad based, resilient economy which has continued to grow through challenging macroeconomic times. Our economic performance has been remarkable.

Yet that growth hasn't been shared by all of our citizens. The City Deal has given us the opportunity to further growth and share this prosperity with everyone in the wider region. If we can maximise this opportunity, we can transform the powerhouse of the Scottish economy. In our latest performance report, issued last month, we were delighted to demonstrate the significant progress made in the delivery of our City Deal and the genuine boost it is providing to the region's economy.

Thousands of jobs are being created through the employment schemes and construction work underway. Local companies are benefitting from contract opportunities and new business support initiatives. Infrastructure projects focused on improving connectivity and land remediation are supporting growth and already drawing further funding and investment into the region.

We are now delivering projects at pace. All of our 27 projects have been selected. And six projects have been completed already, with substantial progress made on projects already underway. Residents are seeing this City Deal investment on the ground. New roads, bridges, remediation and public realm works are visibly transforming our social and physical landscape and helping to unlock vacant sites in key locations, some which have lain unused for many years, opening up opportunities for new housing, retail and commercial development.

At Sighthill, one of the UK's largest urban regeneration projects outside of London, City Deal investment will help to re-connect an area equivalent in size to 60 football pitches to the near-by city centre and open up the North of the city for growth. Extensive remediation has addressed historic land contamination, a result of the area's industrial past and will enable hundreds of new homes to be completed. By the end of this summer, a new parkland and visitor destination will be created on the site. Work will start soon on an iconic pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the M8 motorway, bridging physical barriers between people and place. Local flood management issues will be addressed with the completion next year of Europe's first ever 'smart canal' scheme close to Sighthill, unlocking a further 110 hectares in the north of the city and paving the way for more than 3,000 new homes.

Over 8,000 young people have been supported into work through Youth Gateway, a region-wide employment programme which completed substantially ahead of target. And our Working Matters pilot has already helped thousands of Glasgow City Region residents in receipt of health-related benefits to begin the journey into long-term employment.

Local businesses have benefitted from a £22 million boost - the value of City Deal contracts won to date by companies across the region. And with over £260 million of funding agreed so far for spend on infrastructure works, further contract opportunities are in the pipeline.

We talk about the City Deal levering in over £3 billion of private sector investment over 20 years. Already we are seeing this happen, with many new housing, retail and industrial developments arising from the City Deal funded improvements to transport connections and land remediation. Last year, for example, further significant private sector investment was announced on the back of the £190 million City Deal roads plans at Ravenscraig in North Lanarkshire, once one of Europe's largest derelict sites. This additional investment will help its impressive transformation to continue.

And recent high profile announcements such as Barclays and Channel 4 are demonstrating a real confidence in the city region. The Barclays deal is the most significant inward investment ever made in Glasgow, with a new build campus set to bring 2,500 new jobs and breathe new life into an area south of the river. It also sends a vote of confidence on the region's workforce for large employers looking to relocate to areas with much lower costs and strengths in back office and technology.

The year ahead will be hugely exciting for Glasgow City Region. Our recent progress has been positive with our GVA growing faster than most comparative city regions. Skills are an enabler of economic growth and we continue to have one of the most highly skilled and productive city regions in the UK. In the next few months we will launch a new regional skills strategy underpinned by a robust analysis of our labour market. The region will play host to Scotland's first three Innovation Districts, with the first officially launched just this month. Innovation districts provide start-ups with the support to bolster resilience and resistance to key risks at a critical point in their life-cycle.

Progress in City Deal projects will continue. A number of iconic projects will move forward including the first road opening bridge over the Clyde and a new berthing facility and visitor centre at Greenock which will boost tourism, helping to support a target of over 150,000 passengers passing through Greenock's new Ocean Terminal yearly, delivering £26 million in annual visitor spend to the economy.  

Work will begin on Renfrewshire's Glasgow Airport Investment Area project - delivering the infrastructure and environmental improvements underpinning the development of a 150-acre investment area. The investment area will be at the centre of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), home to two new, national innovation centres - the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC).

We are hugely excited about the opportunities offered by our newly established Regional Partnership which brings together national agencies, the governments and the private, academic and third sectors. Together we can drive forward an economy fit for the future and explore every opportunity to maximise benefits and life opportunities for our residents.

Our success to date has been significant and while no doubt there will be challenges ahead, we are confident we will continue to do even better.

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