Businesses in Brighton and Hove must play to the city’s strengths

By Tony Mernagh

 

Executive director, Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership

 

 

For the first time the city has drawn together in one place all the information that potential investors need to consider locating in Brighton and Hove.

Commissioned jointly by the city council and the Economic Partnership, the website Brighton For Business (www.brightonforbusiness.co.uk) was launched on November 19. Considerable research about the perception of Brighton as a place to do business was conducted before construction of the site. Businesspeople both inside and outside Brighton were asked to identify anything that they thought was truly “world-class” about the city. No one could name one thing although many said that they thought the sum of the whole place was world class.

In fact, the city probably has two institutions that are world class Sussex University and, arguably, Brighton College. In any event, the strength and value of its well educated workforce from two universities was high on most people’s list of USPs. The city’s creativity was also recognised by most and quality of life, emanating from the same source, was one of the principle reasons, if not the principle reason, why established businesses were based in the city.

Doing business in Brighton was also seen as being about more than just making a profit. The city is attractive to people who also have a strong social/environmental dimension to how they operate and are prepared to engage in serious debate about issues.

It was also perceived to be decidedly non-corporate despite the presence of a handful of very corporate businesses such as American Express, Legal & General and EDF Energy. However, even these blue chips value the city’s cutting edge offer and a senior executive at EDF featured in one of the videos on the website extolling the fact that new ideas often took hold in Brighton before the rest of the UK.

Of course it wasn’t all positive; despite excellent transport links especially to London and Europe, congestion was mentioned as often as accolades for the bus service.

Also lack of affordable housing, poor secondary school performance and pockets of deprivation and worklessness cropped up. Our strength is our creativity; our weakness is inequality. We must nurture one and address the other.

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