Greater Brighton is stepping up the pace to bring jobs and prosperity to the City Region – by backing ambitious plans to sell the area to the world.
With excellent connectivity, a diverse and growing economy and a world-class workforce, Greater Brighton has all the raw materials needed to thrive.
But, with the City Region bringing in less than 1% of the UK’s total inward investment in 2016/17, economic experts say the area – which stretches from Brighton north to Gatwick – is underperforming, with productivity and growth rates lower than the wider south east.
With economic uncertainty ahead and competition for investment set to intensify, the Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) today agreed to push ahead with plans to create a new dedicated Trade and Inward Investment Team.
The aim is to sell the benefits of doing business in the area to a wider audience while supporting City Region firms to grow and trade internationally – ensuring Greater Brighton can realise its potential as one of the UK’s leading locations for investment and trade.
Councillor Andy Smith, chairman of GBEB and Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “The Greater Brighton City Region has the potential to be one of the UK’s most compelling inward investment and growth locations.
“Home to nearly one million people, the City Region is distinctive for excellent national and international connectivity, a diverse and growing economy, a talented labour pool and the quality of lifestyle for workers.
“It’s now up to us to sell these benefits to the wider world with one single voice as investment will boost business, create jobs and encourage prosperity for all of our communities.”
The decision comes after GBEB commissioned leading consultancy firm Regeneris to create an inward investment and export strategy for the whole Greater Brighton City Region.
It showed that Greater Brighton is home to around 400,000 jobs and 40,000 businesses, generating an output of around £21 billion every year. The size of the economy has grown by around 10% over the past five years.
But, the report also said that the City Region is way behind other areas, such as Manchester, Thames Valley and Bristol and Bath, when it comes to bringing in investment into the area.
A report presented to the board at the meeting in Hove Town Hall today (Tuesday April 17, 2018) said: “In an uncertain economic context, trade and inward investment has an integral role to play in working towards this vision, supporting business growth and innovation, and creating and sustaining employment opportunities in existing and emerging sectors.
“There is evidence that the area is currently failing to maximise its investment and trade potential, and that, in economic terms, it is losing ground to other locations across the UK.”
The new Trade and Inward Investment Team would be positioned as the lead body to sell the area and its specialised industries to the wider world.
Board members suggested the team could operate from a central hub, with potential for the work to be supported at strategic sites across the City Region, such as Gatwick Airport. With the proposal now backed, Greater Brighton officers have been tasked with exploring the issue further.
The plan would also feed in to the UK government’s Industrial Strategy which sets out an ambition to “create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK”.