Glasgow Economic Commission publishes its findings

Report maps out city’s priorities for next 10 years

Glasgow Economic Commission today (Sunday July 3) published its report aimed at helping the city harness its strengths, renew its economy and identify new trade and investment opportunities over the next decade.

The Commission, a high-level independent group mainly drawn from the city’s senior business leadership, issued the report after a widespread nine-month consultation with city businesses.

According to the report, Glasgow has a bright future based on the city’s success in generating private sector employment since 2000 – during which time Glasgow has generated more jobs in total, including twice as many private sector jobs, than its main UK competitors Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Between 2000-2008, Glasgow posted ‘exceptional’ jobs growth of 49,600 (an increase of 14%), significantly more that Leeds (29,300 – 8% increase), Manchester (20,400 – 7% increase) or Birmingham (7,600 – 2% increase).

In addition, Glasgow’s rate of private sector jobs growth at 12% was more than twice its nearest rival Leeds (5%), three times that of Manchester (4%) and four times that of Edinburgh (3%) and six times that of Scotland as a whole (2%). Birmingham posted a decline in private sector jobs.

Chaired by Professor Jim McDonald, principal of the University of Strathclyde, the group comprises Weir Group CEO Keith Cochrane, Edrington Group CEO Ian Curle, Tesco Bank CEO Benny Higgins and Glasgow City Council’s regeneration executive member Bailie Liz Cameron.

Further support and advice in specialist areas was provided by Jacobs Group vice president Bob Duff, Glasgow University principal Professor Anton Muscatelli, former City Council development and regeneration services director Steve Inch, STUC general secretary Grahame Smith and Kevin Kane, secretary to the Commission and recently director of policy development at Scottish Enterprise.

The report was commissioned by the Glasgow Economic Partnership, the body established in March 2009 to take forward the development and implementation of the city’s Economic Development Strategy, and published by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Commission.

A list of 29 key recommendations and 12 other areas for consideration are contained in the report, focusing on seven key strategic level issues:

  • Private sector leadership – recommends the creation of a new private-public leadership to focus the economic development efforts of the City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and others to deliver on the city’s economic potential, reinforcing that Glasgow is “open for business”.

  • Key growth sectors – five priority sectors which should be developed further to provide the greatest economic and employment opportunities, named as:

- Low carbon industries, with Glasgow as a global hub

- Engineering, design and manufacturing

- Life sciences

- Financial and business services

- Tourism and events

In addition to these, Creative industries are recognised as contributing to Glasgow’s investment attractiveness and “quality of life”.

  • Global promotion of Glasgow and its key sector ambitions – the need to replicate the city’s success in global tourism and events markets across all key sectors, modelled on the success of the City Marketing Bureau and the International Financial Services District..

  • Connectivity to national and international markets – renewed emphasis by all public agencies on improving the city’s air, rail, road and freight connectivity to aid the increasing exporting activity of private sector companies.

  • Innovative funding for infrastructure investment – Glasgow and its economic development partners must look at ways to incentivise the private sector to help fund infrastructure and help develop the economy and employment base, especially in key strategic investment areas the City Centre, Clyde Waterfront and Clyde Gateway in the East End,

  • Further education and Higher education support of key sectors – universities and colleges should work with businesses to produce the skills, knowledge, design and innovation needed.

  • Skills to aid the growth ambitions of key sectors – consistent and strategic engagement needed between those involved in skills development and key sector employers to clearly articulate skills needs.

Commission chair, Professor Jim McDonald, said: “The Commission has made a number of what it believes are challenging and transformational recommendations to the City and its economic partnership. The degree of engagement with the Commission from industry, public and academic sector partners has been overwhelming and we believe bodes well for the city’s economy should the City endorse our recommendations.

“Principal recommendations include: a sectoral focus on Glasgow’s key industries to allow us to compete more effectively on the international stage; a strong partnership of civic and industry leadership to drive Glasgow’s economy; and a convergence of public and city agencies to support the delivery of jobs, economic growth and international impact.

“The extent of the commitment to the work of the Commission is demonstrated by the willingness of those who participated to follow through in support of the delivery of the potential economic value to the city.”

Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson, who is also chair of Glasgow Economic Partnership, said: ““The Economic Commission will become the blueprint for economic development in Glasgow over the next few years.

“It is a very substantial piece of work and I am delighted with the rigour that has gone into the analysis of the city economy, the identification of major opportunities and the suggestions as to how all the major players, both public and private sector, take these forward.

“Glasgow’s economy has been a remarkable success story over the last decade with investment, growth and employment all rising faster than our competitor cities. This commission will become the plan which will allow us to repeat that success over the next decade.

“I would also like to record my thanks to Professor McDonald, Kevin Kane and all of the industry leaders who put so much time and effort into the commission. This is yet another illustration of the unique strength of the partnership which exists across all of the major players in Glasgow.”

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said: “We warmly welcome the Commission's report as independent and drawing on the experience of senior business leaders. It is undoubtedly a staging post in Glasgow's economic renaissance.

“The report provides some very positive messages about what Glasgow has achieved in the past 20 years and clearly sets out the priorities for sustaining this momentum, giving informed views on how Glasgow can earn its living in the years ahead.

“The Chamber was particularly keen there should be an independent view, echoing what the McKinsey Report did for Glasgow 25 years ago at the height of the 1980s economic crisis. The message of this document is that Glasgow is once more a serious economic player, and we will actively and gladly support the implementation of the report’s recommendations.”

Jill Farrell, Financial Services and West director, Scottish Enterprise, said: "Glasgow has the company, research and skills base as well as the demonstrated ability to work in partnership to make it a real driving force in the Scottish economy. Through the work of the Commission we also have the focus on clear strategic priorities for growth which is vital in this time of economic recovery.

"The industries identified by the Commission as priorities for focus, are built on assets from across the west of Scotland. With continued private sector leadership and greater levels of collaboration we can realise the global opportunities these industries present, through work to increase levels of international activity, support for ambitious leadership in companies and stimulating increased levels of innovation. We are now working with partners in the public and private sector to consider the report's findings and produce a joint implementation plan to achieve the tremendous potential of the city and the wider economy.”

Notes to editors

Issued by The BIG Partnership on behalf of Glasgow Economic Commission

Contact Alex Hamilton 0141 333 9585 or 07812 138701

Notes to editors

The Commission’s full remit was to:

 Review the evidence of the current condition and future prospects of the economy of the city of Glasgow and its city-region and consider the implications of this for the successful delivery of the Joint Economic Strategy.

 Consider the implications of UK and Scottish government policy and budgets for the delivery of the city’s Joint Economic Strategy.

 Take evidence, and make recommendations on, the economic development assets of most importance to Glasgow and the investments, in both revenue and capital terms, which should have highest priority over the next five years.

 Identify current or anticipated opportunities for economic and employment growth in Glasgow

The Commission was supported in its work by five dedicated work streams each led by high-profile business and civic leaders; these covered the areas of Infrastructure and Investment Industry/Business Alignment; People and Skills: Higher and Further Education. These work streams ensured that the Commission was able to draw on the views and expertise of business, academic and civic leaders to help identify the economic programmes that need to be implemented to ensure Glasgow continues to create jobs and opportunities for its businesses and citizens.

In its call for evidence, the Glasgow Economic Commission set the following questions:

1 What are the key economic and business opportunities that Glasgow must grasp in the next five to ten years?

2 What actions need to be taken to grasp these opportunities?

3 Are there specific barriers we should be aware of that might inhibit the realisation of these key opportunities?

4 What investments are needed – both private and public – to realise these opportunities and how they might be funded?

The members of Glasgow Economic Commission are:

Professor Jim McDonald – Principal, University of Strathclyde (chair)

Bailie Liz Cameron – Executive Member, Regeneration & Development at Glasgow City Council

Keith Cochrane – CEO, The Weir Group PLC

Ian Curle – CEO, The Edrington Group

Benny Higgins – CEO, Tesco Bank

The Commission was supported and advised by five key groups, each with a convenor taking the responsibility for leadership and collation of work undertaken. The leaders of these groups are:

Higher and Further Education – Professor Anton Muscatelli – Principal, Glasgow University

Industry/Business Alignment – Bob Duff, Group Vice President, Jacobs Group

Investment and Infrastructure – Steve Inch, former Executive Director of Development and Regeneration Services at Glasgow City Council

People and Skills – Grahame Smith, General Secretary, STUC

Economic Context – Kevin Kane, Secretary, Glasgow Economic Commission/Scottish Enterprise.

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