Four years after the 2008/09 recession the UK economy remains well over 4% smaller than it was. Assuming that there will eventually be some growth, where is it likely to come from? Not from Brighton according to Centre for Cities and it’s all because we don’t have enough outside influences.
Centre for Cities has correlated potential for growth with the number of business start-ups and the number of branches of national or international companies located in a particular city. Brighton & Hove doesn’t come out well on the latter.
The report - Open for Business: The shape of business, enterprise and entrepreneurship across UK cities - suggests that private sector growth comes from two main sources – either through growth of the existing business base or through the attraction of businesses from elsewhere.
The report highlights two important areas of focus for policy as it attempts to support future economic growth, and emphasises how it should vary according to the nature of the private sector in each city:
- the importance of the entrepreneur to a city economy. Cities that have higher levels of competition because they have more businesses and more business start-ups are more likely to see growth because of the innovation that competition necessitates.
- the important role that external investment has to play in a city economy. Those cities that have a larger number of branch businesses are better placed to import innovations from elsewhere. So cities should aim to encourage external investment into their economies through better communication with UK Trade and Investment, creating a single point of contact for investors to communicate with and through making the planning system as flexible and expedient as possible.
Outside London, in 2010 Brighton and Aberdeen had the highest number of local-facing businesses [i.e. without an external parent company based somewhere else] relative to their populations. It comes 60th out of 64 for branch businesses [with HQs based somewhere else].
Despite this the report recognises Brighton's economy as entrepreneurial and buoyant albeit "closed".
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
Since Brighton has one of the highest business start-up rates in the UK we can only assume that it has landed low down in the Centre for Cities rankings because it doesn’t have very many businesses with HQs based somewhere else in the country or the world.
This seems to be quite a narrow proxy for "open" economies and there doesn’t appear to be any shortage of creativity in the city despite the fact that we don’t have a branch of House of Fraser or KPMG.
But the comments on the need for inward investment are sound and they come at a time when the local authority and the Economic Partnership are working to attract more businesses to relocate in the city via the development of a City Prospectus [see earlier story].
Click here to download Open for Business
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