15 Jan 2020
Unusually, due to the General Election in December, the 22nd State of the City Economy conference was held in the first week back at work after Christmas and given the full house of well over 600 delegates perhaps that is exactly the moment in the new year when people want to take stock.
And there’s no doubt Glasgow has a lot happening in 2020.
The crane count across the city is visibly rising with major sites including Drum’s Tradeston campus for Barclays, HFD’s new headquarters for Virgin Money (Clydesdale Bank) on Bothwell Street, the site clearance by Osborne & Co on Argyle Street for JP Morgan and the enormous campus extension by the University of Glasgow in Gilmorehill.
The University of Strathclyde launched the Glasgow City Innovation District with the intention to double the size of its Technology Innovation Zone and at the same time championed the first works for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District next to Glasgow Airport. Councillor Aitken’s Connectivity Commission provided a robust plan for investing in the city’s public transport system.
CBRE rated Glasgow second only to Manchester as the largest technology hubs in the UK outside London. Glasgow was named the world’s leading events and festivals destination at the World Travel Awards in Oman and was awarded the 2023 European Capital of Sport, the first city ever to achieve that accolade twice. The city was also rated the best European city for new graduates and was the top ranked UK city for graduate retention.
Of all the issues submitted for discussion at the conference using the Slido phone app, the stubbornly high rate of child poverty garnered the most support from delegates as the highest priority for the city to tackle. Cabinet Secretary Derek Mackay made very clear his continuing belief that poverty is best tackled by ‘meaningful purposeful employment’. So the pressure to keep Glasgow’s economy growing, attracting new investment and creating good quality jobs remains high.
The year ahead is brimming with promise. Not only do we have the unprecedented scale of the United Nations Climate Change Summit COP26 to handle in November but the city will also be a host venue for four matches in the UEFA European Championships 2020 in June. We can also expect a refreshed Glasgow Economic Strategy and a similarly updated economic development plan for the City Centre. And of course we will learn much more about the impact of Brexit.
We will be celebrating the progress of all the physical investments I mentioned earlier and we will be encouraging speedy delivery of the first phases of the Glasgow Metro. We also plan to engage positively with the Cabinet Secretary’s new plans for the revitalisation of the River Clyde as a national strategic asset. More to be said on both proposals at a later date.
Over and above the Chamber’s core work on member promotion, events, training and policy, you should expect to see three special features in 2020. The Chamber has been directly supporting the creation of a new Glasgow Business story including a ‘bragging book’ with some 240 proof points on the city’s economic distinctiveness. Expect to see a great deal more of that this year.
Also look out for a much bigger programme of international trade promotion with trade missions to Germany, Italy, the United States and China all in planning.
Finally there will be an even greater emphasis on the role the circular economy can play in helping businesses and the city to respond to climate change in a way that emphasises business growth.
If you want to get involved just let me know.