March 13th, 2012, 12:42 PM
Leicester - why not?
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: City of Leicester, UK
Likes (Received): 5
Having returned home late on Thursday from another personally funded trip to MIPIM (the world's largest property conference in Cannes, south of France) I, along with my fellow travellers, am left pondering over many points including that old chestnut: 'Why did we bother again?'
Being somewhat on the fringes of the property sector perhaps I am better placed to try to answer this question.
Yes, there is a chance I may strike up a new relationship with a potential client for Cooper Parry, but to be perfectly frank I could do this much more successfully by staying at home.
The main reason I and a number of other Leicester business people spend our own time and money travelling to Cannes is essentially a desire to see Leicester grow and prosper.
Over the past three years at MIPIM, I have attended a number of promotional events for various UK cities, and at almost every one I would have been able to exhibit why Leicester would come out on top in a straight race for funds, especially now given the exciting developments planned and on-going.
The frustration at having to sit and listen to representatives of other UK cities spout on about how great their workforce, infrastructure, history and culture is can be galling when you know what we have to offer.
Most of these cities are supported by the big employers in their region, another factor sadly lacking in Leicester's case. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Leicester is perfect by any stretch of the imagination but nowhere is – the point is that you don't win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. And the lottery prize on offer here is significant.
It is great the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has taken the decision to support MIPIM in 2013.
The key questions which now arise are what will this support entail and how serious are we about promoting Leicester as an attractive place to invest?
As someone who gets close to investors on a regular basis, I can say with certainty that funds are out there looking for a credible home, despite the much-publicised economic downturn.
These funds are available at a regional, national, and more widely, at an international level, which makes attendance at MIPIM all the more important. How many other opportunities exist to showcase what Leicester has to offer to willing and credible international investors?
Yes, it will cost some money to do this successfully but how much is spent is not the key factor here. More important is the need for a sound proposition and energetic people to deliver it.
The latter should not be a problem for Leicester given we already have the only unofficial delegation at MIPIM flying the flag for any city.
So the real challenges for MIPIM 2013 involve firstly identifying what it is about Leicester that makes it unique and worth investing in, and secondly, making sure this message is delivered to the right audience.
Not easy, I agree, but certainly achievable and with 12 months to plan there can be no excuses for getting it wrong. Engaging with the large local employers and well-known businesses is another key challenge for the LEP; take Jaguar Land Rover's continued support for Coventry at MIPIM as an example.
I urge the LEP, those private entities who formed the "informal Leicester delegation" again this year – namely Cooper Parry, Freeth Cartwright, Pick Everard, MIRA, Raynsway Properties, Pedigree Filbert and Waldeck – and those absent employers, to start work now on ensuring that MIPIM 2013 is synonymous with 'Team Leicester'. Who knows we may even emerge as a lottery winner.
Kevin Harris...is a partner at accountants Cooper Parry in Leicester and deputy chairman of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce.
So it's not just us locals who are fed up the the lack of progress by LLEP.
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