Peterborough: Boom city!
[CONT] …country for private sector jobs growth, so we are in a genuinely robust position. But of course it’s a balance – if there were new public sector jobs coming into the city we’d obviously welcome those too because it still creates economic drive.
PETERBOROUGH BUSINESS BREAK-DOWN
Businesses by size
- Micro (0-9 employees): 86%
- Small (10-49 employees): 11%
- Medium (50-249 employees): 2%
- Large (250+): 1%
Is there a particular sector enjoying the strongest jobs growth?
The sector that stands out is IT and communications. It reflects the quality of assets that Peterborough’s got but also reflects a shift in the economy as a whole. You can take ICT into any of the traditional business areas, from manufacturing right through to financial services. Just look at some of the big companies in the city such as Thomas Cook or the BGL Group: they are very strong in e-commerce. E-commerce is a major growth area for us and we will need those IT and communications skills to support that sector. The world is changing; it’s not just Peterborough. But what Peterborough has is a truly entrepreneurial spirit and businesses that are able to respond to present and future demands and challenges. I’m sure that e-commerce will be a major player in the future, particularly given the city’s connectivity and gigabit speed internet.
The gigabit-speed network – the Peterborough CORE – is transforming the way the city does business. What else is in the pipeline that might propel our economy forwards?
There’s the extension of Thameslink rail service to Peterborough, which enhances our connectivity in and through London. It will directly connect us to the heart of London and its financial centre – that’s incredibly powerful. Skills is another development area. We’ll see the growth of our higher education offer with the likes of the University Technical College opening this year, and of course our drive for a fully-fledged Peterborough university. Then there’s the expansion of innovation and R&D [research and development], to pull the skills and new ideas through to industry. Opportunity Peterborough is based in the Future Business Centre, which combines skills, business and innovation in one hub. We’ll see even more of that over the next few years, which will raise Peterborough’s game in the R&D and innovation space too.
We’ve got more jobs, which is great news for the people of Peterborough. What other effects do you think the thriving economy is having on residents?
With job creation comes a greater diversity of employment opportunities. We’ve often heard anecdotes of people working in companies where their skills are far greater than their job demands. Job creation means more opportunities for everyone, while new roles at the higher end of the labour market means people are encouraged to develop their skills further for positive economic gain.
The other tangible effect is in the physical environment. Rewind five or ten years and people wouldn’t eat out in the city centre because the offer wasn’t right. Today we’ve got a good evening economy with plenty of restaurants and, of course, a planned city centre cinema will build on that further. People once scoffed at the idea of city centre living. Yet today there are major residential schemes like at the South Bank and Hereward Tower, showing that the city centre is a great place to live. There are new spaces for people to enjoy and businesses will come in on the back of that. We’re seeing people living in the city centre now, which increases footfall and vibrancy – that’s a palpable shift. We now need to develop more commercial office space as the next component in that growth trajectory; investors are interested, we just need to enable it to come forward. It’s a virtuous cycle that builds and builds. We’re still in the early stages but provided we keep the momentum up it will just continue to grow and develop.
It’s that confidence you mentioned earlier, Steve.
Exactly! Things are coming together well in Peterborough and we’re delivering on our plans but we need to keep working to fuel that virtuous cycle of investment, business growth, new technologies and new innovative approaches. We’ve made great strides in the past and that’s led us to where we are now – just look at how the city has changed in the last 10 years. Let’s make some brave decisions to power the city’s success over the next 10 years.