Why culture and quality of life is good for business
By Guy Currey, Director, Invest North East England
Imagine you’ve just landed your dream job. It’s the role you’ve always wanted and the pinnacle of your career to date.
Now imagine the job is in a city or town with no shops or restaurants and there’s very little to see and do outside working hours. Would you still take the job?
For businesses looking to relocate or open an office in a new area, lifestyle factors can be as important as the infrastructure. A location may be well-suited to trade or access to finance, but can it offer staff a good quality of life?
Here in the UK we’re home to some of the most exciting destinations in Europe, and indeed the world. People flock here because of our reputation as a culturally rich, diverse country with something to offer everyone.
I’ve been fortunate enough to live and work in many different areas of the UK so I know what makes a place special. That’s why I was so impressed when I first settled in the North East of England. Not only does it have one the UK’s fastest growing economies, it’s also home to castles, coastlines, great art and culture, Michelin-starred restaurants and a bustling evening economy. All these factors combined make it such a unique and exciting place to live and work.
When I’m talking to businesses about investing in North East England I spend a lot of my time talking about the unrivaled quality of life; it’s one of our unique selling points.
IT and Digital companies are particularly interested in what our thriving cities have to offer and I’m glad to report they are never disappointed. Similarly, the Health and Life Sciences sector are impressed with our five universities that attract and develop some of the brightest minds in the UK.
Many of our graduates choose to live and work in the North East after graduating because of the fantastic job opportunities and the quality of life on offer in the region. A recent campaign by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership highlighted this ongoing trend. I was particularly struck by the words of Tristan Watson, CEO of Ignite Accelerator in Newcastle, who said “Newcastle is the only city I can think of where I could go for a surf before work, drop my daughter off at nursery and still be in the office by 9am.” I thought that was a fantastic example of how quality of life can be such an important factor when we think about doing business.
An article in the Sunday Times about the North East’s digital economy referenced a report by economist Douglas McWilliams. In it, he ranked every region in the UK based on access to a highly skilled workforce, cheap housing and a sense of cultural buzz to judge which destination had what it takes to nurture a growing digital economy. Newcastle came first. Lifestyle factors and a ‘cultural buzz’ play as much importance in growing our economies as skills and finance.
That’s why I’m particularly excited about this summer’s Great Exhibition of the North in NewcastleGateshead. Set to be biggest event in England this year, it will tell the inspiring story of the North and profile some of the innovative Northern businesses transforming how we live our lives both now and in the future.
It’s events of this scale and ambition that shine a light on our region and will no doubt encourage more businesses to consider North East England as a future investment opportunity.
It should come as no surprise that influential travel publisher, Rough Guide, named Newcastle the number one place to visit in 2018. That follows Lonely Planet calling the North East “the most exciting, beautiful and friendly region in the whole of England.”
I know the North East is a very special place and in 2018, so will the rest of the world.