02 Jul 2019
Last month Scottish Enterprise released its new plans for the next three years and place making has returned after over 10 years as a low priority.
I declare a strong personal interest in this since it’s also 10 years since I left Scottish Enterprise to take on my current role at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and the importance of place making was a large part of that decision.
For sure, Scottish Enterprise should be working directly alongside companies to help them grow and so too should be investing to make sure Scotland has a powerful presence in the sectors that will be central to the new Industrial Revolution we are undoubtedly experiencing.
But if we don’t make a special effort to include communities across Scotland in our economy’s growth then we are simply reinforcing the disenchantment with current wealth patterns that have emerged worldwide. Such disenchantment is what leads to decisions like Brexit. That is where place making has its crucial role to play.
The proposal that each region should have an investment prospectus is the practical first step. Each prospectus should describe the reasons why private investment should take an interest in the region and economic development projects already available. If there are no projects, then new ones should be explored.
The Chamber takes every opportunity to champion projects which will make a difference in the Glasgow City Region.
The three new innovation districts led by the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde and emerging around their campuses and at Glasgow Airport, the next development phase for the Scottish Events Campus, the Glasgow Metro system recommended by the Glasgow Connectivity Commission - these are all projects I would expect would appear in a Glasgow prospectus.
Some certainly need public investment support, but some could attract private investment, indeed might be wholly fundable from private sources. Regional prospectuses should be specifying how private money could play its part.
Scottish Enterprise wasn’t announcing an increased budget. Its resources are likelier to become ever tighter so there was limited suggestion of more regional targeted money.
But the agency can be the facilitator helping each region develop its own investment prospectus and by using the networks and resources of a revitalised Scottish Development International make the connections overseas to attract new private investment.
I vigorously welcome the return of place making. It shows we care that everyone shares in our economic success.