15 Jan 2014
It's probably a little late for wishing all Chamber members a Happy New Year and apologies for leaving it until the second week in January. Nonetheless I hope that 2014 is as big a year for you and your business as it is going to be for the city of Glasgow.
All the work that has gone into the Commonwealth Games since we won them in 2009 comes to fruition in only just over six months. Then only weeks later we make our decision on the Scottish constitution. And very soon thereafter we have the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the MTV Music Awards at the Hydro.
The Chamber is gearing up its contribution to all of these, but especially the Games and the referendum.
During the Commonwealth Games we will be focusing on business to business engagement, helping to promote Glasgow's business community to business visitors from outside Scotland. We will be holding events alongside Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and the agencies of the Scottish Government.
And I believe Glasgow is ready to tell its story. The People Make Glasgow brand is in place, and you can hardly miss it if you are using Glasgow Airport at the moment. We also have a full understanding of the business assets that we want to promote thanks to the work of the sector workstreams of the Glasgow Economic Leadership Board (GEL). Only last Tuesday the GEL had a thorough discussion about the aims, assets and priorities of the Glasgow tourism sector, one of the sectors we most want to see grow as a consequence of the Games.
We know that many of the Chamber members are pressing for detailed information on how the Games will operate between July 23 and August 3. How will it affect practical business activity? Where will footfall be at what times and how can businesses exploit that?
We supported the launch of the Get Ready Glasgow website, which is the first option you should choose to see if the information you need is available. We are now working with the 2014 Games team on getting all the information on transport movements out to business as well. And we continue to highlight contract opportunities with the help of the 2014 team and Scottish Enterprise.
I was in Turin last week with an OECD panel advising Turin on its economic strategy alongside experts from Manchester and Barcelona. All three cities have had the big event experience - Turin with the Winter Olympics in 2006, Manchester with the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and Barcelona of course with its Olympics in 1992. If there was one very strong message coming from all three it is that we cannot become complacent and assume that the economic benefits will automatically flow. We have to work just as hard after the Games in securing those benefits as we are doing beforehand.
That's why here at the Chamber we place such an emphasis on the work of the Glasgow Economic Leadership Board in guiding the city on the initiatives needed to grow our industries, and that's why we are so supportive of initiatives like the City Deal proposals from Glasgow City Council and the surrounding metropolitan authorities to secure funds from UK Government for investment in our economic infrastructure. Manchester has made a great deal of progress with its City Deal and we want Glasgow to do the same. It's this kind of work that will capture the benefits that a Commonwealth Games can bring.
We are also making progress on our work to assess the implications of the referendum in September. I was personally attracted to Jack McConnell's call for a moratorium on referendum campaigning during the Commonwealth Games. It would be a huge disappointment if the Games becomes just one more battlefield to be fought over. They must be a demonstration of what can be achieved when we all work together to sell Glasgow and Scotland to the world.
Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the Games will be a milestone in Glasgow's reinvention. Our economy is becoming more robust, the range and depth of our industrial base consolidating. We have centres of excellence emerging in life sciences, in engineering, in renewable energy and in education to name but a few.
In 2015 Glasgow City Council is supporting a year of work to emphasise science and technology centred on the 250th anniversary of James Watt's invention of the separate steam condenser. So we know we will be continuing the message of what Glasgow is now achieving in those sectors. It is hugely encouraging that we are already well advanced in our thinking for what comes next after 2014.
But we have 2014 to deliver first. The Chamber team want to help you make the most of it. Do get involved.