This is what he said. “Because my vision has always been of a truly balanced economy, one built to last – one which is seen not just on the screens of the traders in the City of London but in the great manufacturing plants of the West Midlands and North East, in tech startups from Dundee to Manchester, in the tourist and defence industries of the South West and Wales, the life science labs of the East of England…”
The whole point of the speech was to highlight its new regional manifestos laying out plans to support employers and create regional jobs. It sounded like national characteristic day. What was next – “the grumpy people of Scotland, the rain-drenched Mancunians,, the sharp-witted Scousers, the brash Londoners”, etc. But the prime minister’s words raise an interesting idea. Is it possible to split the country up into easily recognised business centres or clusters powering certain sections of the economy? Maybe huge regional enterprise zones? It may be an easier and simpler way of gaining government and outside investment for the regions if you know that a certain area is, say, the main provider of technical excellence or tourism or retail excellence in the country. Peers can learn from peers, knowledge and experience can be more easily shared and people seeking employment in these industries would know exactly which region to head for. Read more about regional hubs:
This could be a great solution for those tourist firms in the South West and the tech startups of Dundee, but what of the retailers or manufacturers of the South West or the hospitality firms of Dundee? Where do they stand and how should they react when they hear Cameron’s words? Are they and would they be in danger of being forgotten or marginalised? Not necessarily. They could expect to receive some sort of trickle-down benefits from the booming and well supported businesses of their region. Tech boffins and life scientists for example need somewhere to buy their lunchtime sausage rolls and work clothes. They could help support the wider economy of their region. It would also raise the prospect of businesses feeling the need to relocate their operations to get closer to those regions where their particular sector dominates. Yes there could be issues here surrounding being too close to your competition, but surely there would be more advantage in locating near to your peers and sharing in the wider and perhaps deeper investment your sector will receive. In the same way that Norman Tebbit’s famous “on yer bike” message to unemployed workers still resonates 30 years on, businesses should also consider upping sticks in search of brighter pastures. The relocation of businesses in this country is set to become a bigger theme in the years ahead. This week it was revealed that London firms were considering abandoning the capital because of rising property prices. Powering regional economies, and in particular powering regional clusters of sector expertise, could tempt more to follow. Relocating brings extra costs and stresses to a business. Can your balance sheet take the strain, are your employees happy with the move, will they come with you? But it is something growing business will have to increasingly consider in the years ahead. Image: Shutterstock
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