Tech and digital business to drive fightback in Brighton and Hove

Brighton and Hove’s once-booming economy has slipped behind its neighbours.

Now experts say technological innovation and digital businesses must drive the city back to the top of the growth league. According to new figures for regional economic output from the Office for National Statistics, Brighton and Hove’s economy grew by 1.5% in 2010/11 while neighbouring East Sussex grew by 3% and West Sussex grew by 2.8% in the same period.

The city’s economy grew more than almost anywhere in the country in the last decade but it has stalled since the onset of the financial crisis.

Geoff Raw, a strategic director at Brighton and Hove City Council, said the city had fared better than most coastal resorts but had slipped behind the south-east average.

He said: “We take advantage of our status as a top visitor and conference destination, with new attractions such as the i360 maintaining our popularity. However, the service industry itself is not a generator of value added employment.

“Our aim is to redress the balance by encouraging investment in technological research and development and the creative and digital industries.

“With the right Government support and continued interest and investment from new blue chip companies, we expect to see a significant increase in our gross value added, placing us in our rightful position in the south-east as a thriving and dynamic hub for creative and technological advancement.”

Tony Mernagh, chief executive at the economic partnership, said: “In the decade up to 2008, Brighton was the top spot in the country for the generation of private sector jobs.

“Even during the recession we have more than held our head above water with both general unemployment and youth unemployment falling over the past 12 months. “We must concentrate on attracting investors that are going to provide knowledge-based jobs that require graduate skills.

“At the risk of picking winners that probably includes more digital companies, more environmental technology companies and the development of our fledgling health and life sciences sector.”

Rupert Clubb, East Sussex County Council’s director of economy, transport and environment, said: “These latest statistics underline the need to further improve the county’s economy and increase job creation.

“We’ve already put in place a four-year, £500m budget for growth, which includes funding for transport improvements such as the Bexhill Hastings Link Road, and for faster and better broadband.”

See Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership’s new website at www.brightonforbusiness.co.uk.

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