Frank Ross: Let’s attract investment and keep our city prosperous

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According to the Office for National Statistics, Edinburgh is the most prosperous UK city 
 outside London. I am very aware that in my new role as convener of the economy committee for the City of Edinburgh Council I have a huge responsibility to the city’s residents to ensure that this continues to be the case and improves further.

Drawing talent, investment and high-quality jobs from around the world is essential for Edinburgh’s sustained growth and that’s why inward investment and appropriate development and regeneration is such a key part of our new Strategy for Jobs.

The demand for jobs in Edinburgh is projected to grow at around twice the rate as the supply over the next few years. In response, our Strategy for Jobs aims to 
support the creation of 20,000 jobs between 2012 and 2017.

In order to plug the jobs gap we need to work hard to promote Edinburgh’s potential for inward investment, focusing on key sectors and areas of the city. To help us do this it is crucial that we continue to have a presence at events such as MIPIM, the real estate trade fair and EXPO REAL, the international property trade fair. At the recent visit to EXPO REAL in Munich, our team was inundated with inquiries from people interested in investing in Edinburgh.

Last year Edinburgh was second only to London in the UK for foreign direct investment, attracting 34 projects creating around 1900 new jobs. This is all supported by our award earlier this year when Edinburgh was ranked as the Best Large City in Europe for foreign direct investment in fDi’s European Cities and Regions of the Future awards 2012/13. We are going in the right direction but we mustn’t rest on our laurels.

Competition is absolutely fierce and we need to continue to collaborate with our partners and existing investors who are all ambassadors for the city to attract more investment to Edinburgh. We all need to tell everyone about what a great place Edinburgh is to live and work and share any connections that we might be able to benefit from collectively. The Edinburgh Business Forum was on the advisory board when we developed our Strategy for Jobs and it is vital that they remain a critical friend going forward.

Supporting existing businesses is also at the heart of our Strategy for Jobs. We have just opened a one-stop-shop for businesses in Waverley Court, our headquarters, which was officially opened by Sir Tom Farmer earlier this month. Building standards and planning are working alongside Business Gateway, the national advice programme and the new Business Development 
Centre has been kitted out with meeting space, a waiting area and work stations.

I am also passionate that job creation means nurturing young people coming out of school and helping them get into further education or training. As part of our commitment to the Edinburgh Guarantee programme we recruited 50 new Modern Apprentices in the financial year 2011/12 and we are well on our way to recruiting a further 50 before the end of March 2013.

My first week in post has also highlighted to me the importance of investment in our nine town centres across the city. This needs to be done with partners across the city from the private and public sectors but I can see already the fruits of the support we offer.

I attended a celebration with staff in St Stephen Street in Stockbridge who are now trained to offer the best customer service in Scotland. Other projects which have been drawn to my attention are Portobello offering late night festive shopping this week and local artists brightening up shop fronts in Leith.

As the festive season is upon us I am very much looking forward to the buzz which that brings to our multi-award winning city, and so here’s to the festivals and to local businesses having a bumper winter season.

Councillor Frank Ross is convener of the economy committee

‘STRONG CHRISTMAS TRADING PERIOD’

LATEST economic statistics show there are a fifth more shoppers on the streets of central Edinburgh since the tram works were lifted in June, handing traders a boost and safeguarding jobs in retail. Essential Edinburgh said footfall in October was 19.8 per cent higher than the previous October, when works diverted buses from Princes Street.

The amount spent on retail is down four per cent on last year – lagging behind Scotland, at plus one per cent and the UK at plus 3.4 per cent. But the city centre business group said: “Everything looks in place for a strong Christmas trading period.”