Making sure Glasgow is presented in the best possible light as a city in which business should invest is a priority for the Chamber’s members. We are especially keen Glasgow’s economy is well understood overseas and that matters even more with Brexit looming ever closer.
Last autumn an independent report was commissioned to see whether international perceptions matched our own understanding of the city’s assets. Drawing on the evidence from some 450 indices assessing the comparative strengths of cities across the world along with a review of how Glasgow’s economy is reported in both mainstream and social media, it offered encouraging guidance on where the city stands. But it was also clear about how little the world knows about Glasgow’s economy and business base.
Glasgow has had an especially good performance in the global metrics recently, climbing from the 50th percentile of over 230 benchmarked cities in 2015-16 to the 29th percentile in the 2017-18 list of over 310 cities. Reasons for improvement include real success in building financial, creative and business process outsourcing clusters.
For a city of our size we’re much higher in the rankings for global financial centres than expected. Our education sector has also been very strong in attracting students and we’re in the top 10% in Europe for the proportion of working age adults with at least a degree level qualification.
In addition the indices are increasingly measuring features where Glasgow’s historical strengths have previously been under appreciated. The science and technology base of a strong engineering city are re-emerging with higher than average presence in low carbon industries, engineering design and advanced manufacturing and in the health and medical sectors. That’s partly why the development of innovation districts by Strathclyde University and Glasgow University is so important.
But the visibility of Glasgow’s new economy is low. We have been very successful in communicating our visitor offer and our student experience but the perception of our business offer is well below average. Perhaps that is unsurprising since there are aspects of our business economy that I suspect are not that well understood even at home. How well do we appreciate the turnaround there has been in the growth of Glasgow’s population? Or the extent of Glasgow’s strengths in industries like quantum technologies and photonics?
The report is helping us to re-shape as a matter of urgency the Glasgow pitch that we make to international investors.
Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
Source: Herald Scotland