October 2020 – Director’s Blog
The scale of the challenge for the Region from Covid-19 is substantial.
While no country or region has been spared, we know what is ahead of us is not going to be easy and will involve job losses, redundancies, significant risks to businesses in certain sectors and a detrimental impact on young people and their future opportunities.
But we have been working hard to understand the key issues, the priorities and also the emerging opportunities. This has helped us to develop solutions and bring forward new ideas to protect the Region, for example, looking at the diversification of certain industries and the types of new skills that will be required. We have a plan in place and last month I introduced our Regional Economic Recovery Plan.
An update on our progress in the plan was discussed at October Cabinet.
A number of activities are underway to support those facing redundancy to quickly find their way back into employment, including work to collate and promote details about the range of help available and how to access it.
Proposals are being drawn up through our Housing Portfolio for a Regional energy efficiency housing retrofit programme which will create meaningful local jobs and cut carbon emissions. Work is underway to scope out how the scheme would work and what types of jobs would be required. This would support the Scottish Government’s ambitions to ensure Scotland is developing the supply chains, workforce and expertise needed to support our accelerated transition to net zero and for us to be best placed to maximise the opportunities beyond that at home and globally.
It is vital that we provide better and more co-ordinated support for local businesses. Work is underway to understand the key issues and priorities being faced now by the Region’s businesses so that a reshaped business support offer from Scottish Enterprise can best address these requirements. To support the skills and enterprise response to the recovery from Covid-19, we are working closely with Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland to shape the delivery of the services to meet needs of Glasgow City Region.
Community Wealth Building is a people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy and places control and benefits into the hands of local people. We are working with Scottish Government colleagues to develop a Community Wealth Building plan for the Region which is likely to focus on the use of land and procurement, the latter which will align with the development of our new sustainable procurement strategy, due later in the year.
Progress in our economic recovery plan will continue to be updated at Cabinet.
Work continues to move forward at pace in the City Deal infrastructure programme.
Construction work at Renfrewshire Council’s £39 million Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA) City Deal project is now back to operating at full capacity after a phased re-opening, with a revised completion date of May 2021.
The commercial deal on the Exxon site at West Dunbartonshire concluded, marking a significant milestone for the £34 million City Deal project and allowing plans to move forward on the site of the former oil terminal. Extensive remediation is already underway with plans to transform 150 hectares of derelict land in a key riverside location into a viable industrial and commercial development which will draw further investment and jobs to the area. The project also includes proposals for a new road which will provide an alternative route in and out of West Dunbartonshire, improving connectivity for people living, working or visiting the area.
An update was provided at this month’s Cabinet on the Metro feasibility study project, with plans to appoint specialist support to assist the team to create a scope of service for the feasibility study consultancy work.
Cabinet also approved the next phase of funding for the Ravenscraig infrastructure access project. Creating improved access to and through the site will unlock the enormous development potential of Ravenscraig and support a new masterplan for 2,900 new homes and 213,000 square metres of commercial and industrial development. It will release 200 hectares of brownfield land in a degraded site located next to communities experiencing high levels of deprivation. Connecting Ravenscraig to the motorway network and making it more accessible by train, bus, walking and cycling will not just make it more viable for development but it better enable local and Regional residents to access new jobs and business opportunities.
The potential of the Clyde corridor has been discussed and reported recently in the news and the announcement of £25 million Programme for Government funding for Mission Clyde is encouraging. Mission Clyde, a joint plan with the Scottish Government, is set to make the river the engine of our green and inclusive economic and social recovery, and is potentially the greatest untapped development opportunity in Western Europe.
The recent sale of 150 Bromielaw, a high profile office building at the heart of Glasgow’s International Financial Services District, one of the biggest UK office deals outside of London, following the Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrates the resilience of our commercial property market and the opportunity around the river corridor, despite the wider economic uncertainty.
Next month we meet with our government funders for the annual conversation meeting, an opportunity to review progress in our City Deal. You can view our latest Annual Performance report here and see examples of people, businesses and communities which are benefiting from our City Deal projects.
The City Deal infrastructure programme is absolutely fundamental to the Region’s economic recovery. We will continue to work with government partners to accelerate, prioritise, and expand infrastructure capital investment, particularly on significant transformational projects such as Mission Clyde, Ravenscraig, the Metro and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Renfrewshire. All of these projects will help to protect the Region, draw investment, create jobs and opportunities for local businesses and support a green recovery.
Kevin Rush is Director of Regional Economic Growth at Glasgow City Region
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