Work to tell Glasgow’s new story revealed at SOCE | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Work to tell Glasgow’s new story revealed at SOCE

At the 21st State Of The City Economy (SOCE) conference, Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitken announced that the Council, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow Airport were jointly commissioning a piece of work aimed at telling Glasgow’s new story.

She said the work, by globally-recognised urbanist Greg Clark, would “develop a fresh, shared narrative highlighting those areas of strength that are not yet filtering through to the wider world.”

It would “show investors that if they come to Glasgow, not only will they see our challenges being addressed, they will also see a brand and a reputation for opportunity unrivalled in these islands”.

The new work follows on from an earlier Council and Chamber-commissioned report, also by Professor Clark, to assess Glasgow’s business performance, assets, and climate in relation to UK, European and global competitor cities – from which “headline figures are encouraging”, with Glasgow ranking 32nd globally for overall performance amongst medium-sized peer cities.

Opening the conference, Councillor Aitken pointed out the first SOCE in 1997 occurred when Glasgow was emerging from its turbulent history. She said “de-industrialisation, combined with urban depopulation left deep and toxic scars to fester on the city’s landscape and generational unemployment, detachment and despair to take hold in communities left behind.” But even in its darkest days Glasgow could always muster a remarkable capacity for resilience.

She said Glasgow is a vibrant and diverse and growing international city and a world leader in key sectors such as life sciences, quantum and space technology and creative industries and a global reputation for hosting international sporting and cultural events.

She said: “We do know that it is crucial that Glasgow rises above the oncoming shocks and that we remain in control of resilience and growth able to promote levels of innovation and investment, fair work and skills for all of our citizens, enabling and working in collaboration to secure our collective aims.’’

The council leader singled out the Barclays move at Tradeston as being the benchmark for companies working in Glasgow. The bank has made a commitment to take on staff from under-privileged backgrounds. “Our economy needs workers and skills,’' she said. There are 4,500 asylum seekers in Glasgow and they could be benefiting the city by being in useful employment.

Derek Mackay, the Cabinet Secretary of Finance, Economy and Fair Work, - the guest of honour - said he will announce measures to stimulate growth in Scotland and tackle the productivity gap in his Budget.

Mr Mackay spoke of inter-generational poverty and unacceptable levels of exclusion in Scotland and how the Scottish Government is working hard to tackle this to create a fairer and more sustainable nation.

Despite such challenging times, the Scottish economy is performing relatively well against the rest of the UK. He pointed out there was record low unemployment, record amounts of foreign and direct investment over the last three years. On research and development, and on GDP, at 1.7% growth, Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK over the last 12 months. 'That's significant.'

He wants to help more Scottish companies export and improve internationalisation. He spoke about the role of the Scottish National Investment Bank which was essential to support private sector growth.

Mr Mackay said the Scottish Government wants to raise the level of infrastructure in terms of transport and digital infrastructure. Scotland is falling behind the rest of Europe in terms of connectivity, which prevents lower income people finding work.

He added: "Brexit is a challenge to our economic growth. We're hoping for the best and now planning for the worst. But at the same time trying to get the least worst outcome.''

Professor Graeme Roy, head of economic and director of the Fraser of Allander Institute,

told the conference that 80,000 jobs in the city region depend on European connections, with 57,000 EU nationals living in Glasgow City region, including the NHS and in the universities. The city economy will face significant head winds for the long term because of the impact of Brexit.

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