Peterborough: Boom city!

Peterborough: Boom city! 1 2 3

[PREV] …know the local environment can support it.

What the Smart City award reflects is that genuine shift in confidence and the amazing businesses we’ve got here and that we’re attracting. Businesses see that, yes, this is the time to invest and grow in Peterborough because the city’s going places: it’s well connected, has excellent infrastructure – it’s got everything a business needs to be successful. And if companies are growing then of course that’s great for jobs. As an economic development company Opportunity Peterborough exists to help businesses grow so they can create the jobs that then stimulates even further economic activity.


Centre for Cities, an independent think tank dedicated to understanding and improving city economies, produces an annual report that looks at the 64 largest cities in the UK across a number of key measures. In its most recent publication, Peterborough ranked as follows:

  • GVA (Gross Value Added, the value of all the goods and services produced in the city): £4.97bn
  • GVA per worker (typically referred to as productivity): £49,400 (UK ranking: 20th)
  • Patents: 6 per 100,000 of population (UK ranking: 6th)
  • Knowledge intensive businesses: 13% (UK ranking: 29th)
  • Other private sector services: 51% (UK ranking: 3rd)
  • Economic Activity Rate: 80%
  • Ratio of private to public sector: 3.5 (UK ranking: 8th)

As well as helping businesses to flourish, there’s also the role of getting the right blend of businesses into the city. One of the great things about Peterborough is that it’s got such a broad mix of sectors.
That’s right. It makes the city more resilient to shocks. If you’re not heavily reliant on one sector, or even one company, as is seen in some other cities, then there’s less chance of economic decline when the one sector you’re dependent on begins to suffer. There’s also more of an opportunity within your supply chain to access products and services locally, which makes the supply chain quite tight and reliable.

The business community as a whole is pretty close-knit isn’t it?
One of Peterborough’s greatest strengths is how connected its businesses are to each other. That partly reflects the rate of growth in the city. The city doubled in population only in the mid-20th century, so those connections you get in smaller cities are still there and the networks between businesses are immensely strong. I’m constantly amazed when I talk to one business about another and they’ll mention that ‘oh yes, we’ve worked with them’. That helps the economy because businesses are interacting with each other and they trust each other. It means that when a new initiative comes along the networks and clusters are already there to build on.

Other cities don’t necessarily have such a close-knit community because they’ve always been large, they’re too small, or somehow those networks have dissipated. Peterborough’s in this lovely position where our size is an advantage: it’s big enough to build strong economic confidence, but not so big that you lose those vital business connections.

Over the past three years Peterborough businesses have created nearly 7,000 jobs. But which sectors are climbing?

3 years to 2014 (latest data available):

Growth by GVA (Income approach)

  • UP   Distribution, Transport and accommodation and food
  • UP     Information and communication
  • UP    Construction
  • UP    Manufacturing
  • UP    Finance and Insurance

You’ve already alluded to Peterborough’s excellent physical and digital infrastructure. Another positive for businesses must be property prices in the city, which are perhaps more affordable than many other parts of the South?
When you look at what makes a business decide to grow or relocate to a particular location the primary consideration is ‘can I operate my business more successfully there?’ So as well as infrastructure, there’s the operating costs. Can the business afford the property and can it afford to run it? Then when all other things are equal it comes down to quality of life issues such as housing, culture and education.

Would you say this is a unique selling point for the city?
Peterborough doesn’t have just one selling point, its unique proposition is its diversity of offer. When it comes to quality of life, there’s everything from green spaces to the quality, availability and affordability of housing. From a commercial angle, as I’ve mentioned, Peterborough has everything a business needs to succeed. It has a lot of assets and qualities on both of these aspects that make it distinctive – we’re right to bring all of those opportunities together and I think that’s what businesses welcome.

We’ve talked about business reliance. Peterborough has a high rate of private sector jobs: 83% of jobs are in the private sector versus 77% nationally. This must be a good thing given further public sector cuts.
Cities that are heavily reliant on the public sector may face difficulties because the public purse is shrinking all the time. Fortunately, Peterborough has seen significant private sector jobs growth. In fact, in an independent national league table, we’re second in the… [PREV]

Peterborough: Boom city! 1 2 3

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