8 May 2013
Business Matters Conference, Renfrewshire
After a few glorious days in Renfrewshire, the rain came back with a vengeance. But that didn’t stop hundreds of local businessmen and women flooding into Paisley Town Hall to attend Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce’s 3rd B2B event – Business Matters in Renfrewshire.
The theme of the day was “Helping Renfrewshire Grow and Prosper”, with four excellent speakers lined up for the day.
First to the stage was Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP who spoke at length about the importance of capital investment in order to encourage the growth of the Scottish economy. The discussion centred on the plans to create an Enterprise Zone around Glasgow Airport. With the Commonwealth Games fast approaching, it is important that there is a strong focus on increasing tourism to the country. To do this, there is a need for better access to the airport and for the Scottish Government to gain power over Air Passenger Duty (APD).
When asked whether APD, in fact, acted as a Green Tax, Ms Sturgeon responded that there needed to be a balance as aviation links are vital to economic growth. Enabling infrastructure helps businesses grow which is why it’s important for governments, industry, businesses and local authorities to work closely together in order to help create jobs and, in turn, achieve economic growth.
Next speaker was Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander MP who centred on the importance of investment in skills, people and infrastructure in order to stimulate economic growth. Mr Alexander also discussed the evident challenges of the construction industry which have a continued effect on other industries. As a result, he stated the importance of looking at steps to improve and increase housing options available in order to make positive changes to the economy.
When asked about his opinion on Scottish Independence, Mr Alexander was firm in his stance: “Scotland stands taller and prospers as part of the UK. We are stronger together and weaker apart and it’s important that we work together to create a better UK economy.”
Economist, Dr Walter Boettcher followed, giving an insight into recent economic trends and also predictions for the future. In his expert opinion, the UK will go back to basics in terms of manufacturing and exports as primary industries. There needs to be a rebalance between production and construction versus services industries. The UK is already seeing evidence of this with “Reshoring” trends. We are already seeing heavy industries, such as tooling and shipping, beginning to bring manufacturing back to the UK. This is also evident in terms of trained skilled services, such as financial services and call centre operations.
To finish off the day’s session, we were presented with a passionate and inspirational talk from businessman and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter. Tom’s philosophy is that Scotland can reinvent the modern world with ambition, innovation, aiming high and aiming long. He continued to explain that it’s imperative for local communities to adopt collaborative working methods in order to encourage economic growth. Small businesses account for more than 50% of job creation in G20 countries therefore councils, banks and businesses need to work together to provide advice and support, particularly to new start ups.
“As a nation, Scotland is stubborn; meaning we never give up. As a country we don’t want marginal growth, we want to see exceptional growth. By breaking traditional rules and taking risks, new start ups and SMEs can raise our game and begin to create a country where opportunities prevail for all.”
Phew! And… relax.
What a great selection of speakers to start off Day One of Business Matters in Renfrewshire and we can’t wait to see what else Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce has in store…