Leave a comment
Be the first to add a comment.
While Brexit and the Tory leadership contest have dominated the national agenda lately, at the local level, the production of the Local Industrial Strategies (LIS) has been the main focus. There has been a flurry of them published in recent weeks, while the rest are working towards a deadline of March 2020.
As a part of this, the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (WWCLEG) has held two series of four workshops. A key question that the latter of these looked to answer was how does ‘Place’, one of the pillars of productivity identified by the Government’s Industrial Strategy interact with the other four pillars – ‘People’, ‘Ideas’, ‘Business Environment’ and ‘Infrastructure’.
For the ‘people’ pillar, ‘place’ is indiscriminate – skill levels are the biggest determinant of outcomes everywhere. All LEPs should, in whichever form appropriate, work to upskill people across all of their area. But ‘place’ does impact the appropriate approach for the other three pillars, because of the different roles different places play, both within LEP areas as well as between them.
Previous work by Centre for Cities finds that the inherent advantages that some places e.g. city centres offer to businesses are different to those offered by others e.g. rural areas. On the aggregate, we find that activities that require a lot of space like manufacturing prefer to locate outside of urban areas where land is cheaper and knowledge-based activities that require access to a large pool of workers tend to concentrate in city-centre locations. This ought to inform what the policies within a LIS aim to do and what they target.
For the ‘business environment’ pillar, this means that the composition of a LEP i.e. whether it is mostly rural, urban or a mix of both places a limitation of what sort of activities are going to locate in that area. This should be taken into account when designing interventions to enhance the local business conditions, to improve targeting and manage expectations around what policy can achieve.
Within the ‘ideas’ pillar, density is important. Broadly speaking, density is good for innovation. The WWCLEG finds that proximity of researchers to each other through co-location improves quality of output. Our work also finds that jobs in city centres are more productive than their counterparts elsewhere. But this preference is not universal – some sectors, like defence and pharmaceuticals, value space and privacy more. These dynamics should be borne in mind when putting interventions in place to encourage innovation, especially if there is any intention to target specific industries or sectors.
‘Infrastructure’ is the pillar where the impact of ‘Place’ is the most obvious. Proliferation of public transport systems is the most efficient solution to get people around in dense city centres where as a private car is the best way to travel in the countryside. This influences the mix of initiatives a LEP will choose to deploy, based on what the place looks like. In this context, it is no surprise that Greater Manchester’s infrastructure solutions, given its largely urban make up are focused on improving its public transport network. One would imagine the same section of the strategy for Cumbria would be more focused on the road networks and improvements to broadband. And the LIS for D2N2 LEP, with the Peak district and the cities of Derby and Nottingham within its boundaries, to be a combination of the two.
Government has pushed for LISs to be ‘distinctive’ on a sector basis but different places play different roles. This role of place should be the key differentiator when we think about what a LIS should do across the different pillars.
For those interested to know more, our notes from the workshops are here.
Be the first to add a comment.