|Brighton thrives, but there's room for growth yet
||[Jan. 19th, 2010|01:06 pm]
Brighton is a city whose economy has grown over the last 15 years, driven by its reputation. Using regeneration money to up the quality of the city, we attracted more visitors and significant (public and private) investment in culture and leisure. By doing a good job of communicating our high skills base and good quality of life, our economy has continued to grow, attracting major employers to move in and graduates to stay. |
As a result, Brighton and Hove has emerged from the recession with remarkable resilience. There was much anxiety when recession began, especially about our most vital industries: high tech, digital and new media businesses, the independent retail sector and arts and culture.
But Brighton has been resilient. The independent retail sector has stood the test of the recession, with support from the Economic Partnership and FE College, by targetting niche markets - from jewellers to vegetarian shoes! The cultural sector continued to thrive, lead by the Festival. Inviting Anish Kapoor to be the guest artistic director in 2009 was a master stroke drawing widespread media attention to the city as a serious arts contender. And Wired Sussex, the organisation that supports digital media businesses, continued to grow markets for local firms and attract significant new investment, such as Disney and Second Life. While development ground to a halt, officers in the local authority secured the continuation and future expansion of American Express.
We’re developing an integrated city-wide plan for skills, we’re working on the development of 19 key sites to attract employers, and we’re working to increase the number of higher paid graduate jobs in the city. We’re expecting the number of working age people in the city to increase between now and 2016 by some 12,000.
And there’s more we could do. From all parties on the Local Authority (there's a Labour/Green majority with a minority Conservative administration) there needs to be a growth-led strategy. Less inertia from Labour, less zero growth chat from the Greens and less parochialism from the Conservatives. The Universities are, despite the shocking state of government investment, growing. We have a good skills base. We need to be more aggressive in attracting inward investment. And we need more devolved financial powers in the future, as the Centre for Cities advocates.
Simon Fanshawe is Chair of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership