Government received 39 economic plans when it came to allocating the Local Growth Fund to LEP areas. You can bet that at least 30 of them used the word ‘unique’ to describe their economic potential. So what is it that really makes Liverpool City Region unique?
The first thing to note is that many different areas can have many different strengths. ‘Comparative advantage’ or ‘competitive advantage’ does exist – areas can have ‘smart specialisation’ not as an abstract concept but as a result of their ‘path dependency’ and ‘institutional fix’. In plain English – because all areas have different histories, they have different industries, people have different skills, and at a point in time – these can be strengths that make one area more worthy of investment compared to others.
Liverpool City Region’s time is now.
The City Region Growth Plan spotted three huge economic opportunities.
- Our City Centre – attractive to business and to tourism and a brand known around the world.
- Our ‘Freight and Logistics Hub’ – the unique set of assets associated with the Superport that extends throughout the entire City Region and beyond.
- LCR2Energy – the opportunity to be energy self sufficient within 20 years with the associated energy security, fuel poverty and carbon reduction benefits
Nowhere – and we mean nowhere – has such a unique set of economic assets and nowhere can create or replicate such – it is genuine, it is born from the City Region’s history and it is of national importance if any Government is to be serious about creating a Northern Powerhouse and rebalancing the economy of the UK.
It is also market facing and market induced. We’re not ‘picking winners’ in a vain hope to create a new industry but building on the market opportunities already taking place.
Businesses want to locate themselves in Cities as agglomeration economic sees them become centres for creativity and innovation.
We have a City that is globally known, that millions visit – and we need to build on this strength.
Global freight change sees ships get bigger and the opening of a widened Panama Canal means Liverpool becomes the first port of call to enter Western Europe. Nationally, cost factors will see logistics business become people and port centric – from pretty much anywhere in our City Region you are 30 minutes from the Port and less than 4 hrs from 35 million people. You cannot be any more people and port centric within the UK! The market – not our Plan – is driving this change. Our plan is to capture the benefits as quickly as we can.
And energy is likely to be the biggest issue of our age: we need it, we need it to be less damaging to our environment, we need it to be more secure, we want it to be cheaper and we want it now. Somewhere has to take a lead on tackling the issues faced, and nowhere is better placed than Liverpool City Region.
In summary then, no place has a set of assets like ours but they are not the only strengths with which we can promote what we do. Our people are exceptional and hard working – productivity in some sectors is way above the UK average and when it comes to humour and friendliness the City Region is world renowned.
And nowhere has a commitment of business like our LEP area. Our LEP is unique – it engages directly with the private sector in a way no other LEP can do and it uses that intelligence to determine not what a ‘statistic’ says will work, but instead, where a market will change and what is required to respond. It is why as a City Region our public sector partners have a private sector representative on the Combined Authority as a voting member – another unique asset we have!
So is the Liverpool City Region unique – definitely!
Mike Palin, Chief Executive at St Helens Council and formally Executive Director, Liverpool City Region LEP