13 Jul 2022
By Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
In a previous blog I described the first three of ten outcomes that Glasgow Chamber’s governing council agreed following the launch of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Their intention was to make clear what success would look like for Glasgow if both national and local strategies were fully delivered given the comments made by Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, that the government should be judged on delivery rather than strategy plans.
Those first three outcomes described the importance of post pandemic recovery for Glasgow city centre, Glasgow Airport and the Scottish Events Campus, all assets that have been central to the city’s thirty-year economic transformation. Here then are the remaining seven.
First is Glasgow’s re-emergence as a centre for scientific discovery and technological innovation which received a boost from the UK Government’s designation of the city as an Innovation Accelerator under the Levelling Up White Paper. Research strengths in advanced manufacturing, space, photonics, nanofabrication and quantum technologies, in precision medicine, fintech and renewables are all opportunities that can help shape the city’s economic future. Glasgow has three innovation districts at varying stages of development, and we can measure their success by the emergence of clusters of new technology companies and growth in investment by business in research and development. Effective delivery of those innovation districts will be as important to the city’s future jobs as the International Financial Services District was for the previous twenty years.
The Chamber is also keen not to overlook two more traditional sectors.
One is the recovery of overseas tourism using the successful delivery of the very first UCI World Cycling Championships in 2023 as a milestone event. This is a new gathering of all cycling disciplines under one championship banner and Glasgow has the experience to make it work.
The other is the marine industry including shipbuilding, ship repair, Glasgow’s substantial shipping industry and its excellent record in marine education. With the support of the Scottish Government’s Clyde Mission, Clyde Maritime is an industry led initiative to help shipbuilding and ship repair grow. Overcoming industry skills shortages will be the initial task.
Clyde Maritime is a tangible project for bringing more life back to the River Clyde and so too is the Chamber’s fourth deliverable, the Clyde Green Freeport bid which was submitted in June offering tax advantages to commercial and industrial activity all along the river front.
The fifth outcome would be a fresh regional skills campaign responding to the skills shortages across other sectors as diverse as engineering, transport and hospitality and with a special emphasis on the flexible role of the college sector in helping bring more Glaswegians out of the poverty of economic inactivity and into the plentiful job opportunities in the city. This is a rare moment in Glasgow’s recent economic history.
The sixth deliverable outcome is one of the most stretching and most crucial. Glasgow has to build on its role in COP 26 by achieving net zero by 2030 and the Chamber sits right behind the City Council’s Green Investment Prospectus. The prospectus itself has an extensive set of projects including the retrofitting of domestic heating systems and radical improvements in the public transport network. Many of the projects need private capital to make them happen.
So the final deliverable the Chamber is backing is the Clyde Metro, which is included in the Scottish Government’s priorities for transport investment and essential if we are to encourage a permanent shift from private vehicles and on to public transport. It will also finally deliver on a long-term goal for the Chamber by creating a rail connection between the Airport and the City Centre.
Delivering all of these in the context of tight public finances is no easy task and rather reinforces the importance of getting the private sector wholly involved. The Chamber is committed to supporting each of these outcomes and as quickly as possible.
This article was first published in The Herald on Wednesday 13 July 2022