Time to think big
Derby has huge potential but it thinks like a small city and it is time to change that mentality, says Peter Richardson, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership Chairman.
Our city is bursting with global advantages – it is incredibly well-connected, it has a host of iconic brands which it can build on the back of (EPM Technology, Bombardier, Toyota and Rolls-Royce to name but a few), and is home to some key centres of excellence but it sees itself as a small city.
In actual fact, we are not a small city, we are a great city.
Derby has had some real challenges in the past. There was a time when it was difficult to sell Derby to a senior executive because it was not a city that tripped off the tongue such as Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Leeds.
Now, thanks to the great work of organisations like Marketing Derby, as well as the common voice that we have, we are able to sell our city and county much more effectively than we used to.
We are now talking about Derby competing against Singapore. Why do we think like that? Because Rolls-Royce do business over there and are being wooed by Singapore to develop their services. This is a big step forward so we need to continue to play to our strengths and look at how we develop beyond our local markets.
Back in the UK, we have a Government that wants to devolve power from London to other cities across England. To do that, Government needs to be confident the city knows what it is doing and how we can run it more effectively and efficiently than London can.
We are now talking about Derby competing against Singapore
We need our city leadership, key business leaders, our University and college principals pleading for these powers which may give us greater control over our roads, housing, planning and skills. We need our businesses to look beyond their known geography, get them thinking about exports, how we are going to develop businesses in China and how we are going to look at India as a growth location.
Derby has to think more about its place in the country and in its international environment, and how it manifestly wants partnerships to work because that is how you expand and grow.
In the D2N2 LEP’s area, we have 19 local authorities committed to our economic plan, with eight key sectors for focus, including transport and logistics, life science and construction.
Our vision is a more prosperous, better connected, increasingly resilient and competitive economy. We are opening up funding and partnership opportunities and helping businesses work alongside those that create tomorrow’s skills and those that will lead our city’s tomorrow.
When Mark Carney was appointed Governor of the Bank of England, his first public speech was about the East Midlands being the bellwether of the UK economy.
When George Osborne pledged to extend his Northern Powerhouse idea earlier this year, he spoke about the Midlands as an ‘engine for growth’.
But to become this ‘Engine’, we need to be capable of shouting about what our strengths are. We have made great progress but there is much more to do as national, international and global competition for skills and our businesses will only get more intense.
Isn’t it a small world? It is easy to visit another great city and start a business, an education, a life there, so now is the time for us to be at the centre of this small world, shouting about why Derby is a place you can create, build, sustain your life, your family, your business, and your future.
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