We have a vision for Derby. That vision, as laid out in our 50 pledges, includes an ambitious agenda for economic growth – creating thousands of jobs and regenerating the city. We have been very clear about what it is that we will focus on and achieving prosperity for the city through global trade and investment is definitely high on our agenda.
That’s why elected officials sometimes lead delegations of local businesses on trips overseas to meet with investors and to form strategic relationships. We are there to meet the people who make the decisions about where to invest, how and when.
We have been open about our ambitions to seek our global investment for the city – from visits to China as part of the Midlands Engine investment and trade delegation, to visits to Derby by senior officials from other countries and participation in the global property fair known as MIPIM in France. All of this activity raises the profile of the city and alerts investors that we are most definitely open for business.
We are already reaping the rewards of those efforts. There is substantial UK and international interest in several key development sites including the former Debenhams building on Victoria Street. We hope to be able to announce exciting details in the future but, without any doubt, some of these announcements wouldn’t be possible if our courting of investment partners hadn’t already taken place.
There can be no economic investment in the city without making the effort to position the city amongst not only our competitors, such as other cities in the UK, but amongst other European and global destinations.
The total cost to the Council of travel to China on four occasions in the past 17 months is £16,588 involving a number of employees and elected officials. This money is not spent on any one individual but includes those who need to be present to make the case for their investment in Derby. The Council’s delegation have travelled economy class.
The cost of overseas travel is offset as much as possible through funding in whole or in part, by partners including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Three of the four visits have been led and funded by the Council, with support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The forth was to make introductions and links for a major Derby business, and in this case all costs of the visit were met by the business in question.
We firmly believe that the cost of travelling across the world to places like China is justified by the economic benefits to the city in the medium to long term. The best example of the benefits of international partnership working is Toyota. This massive investment would have gone elsewhere if the city working closely alongside the County Council and South Derbyshire District Council hadn’t taken a very proactive approach.