Monday 21 January 2013

Hot Brighton business news – Good stuff for January 2013

As the city mourns the demise of Jessops and HMV, there’s positive news on the horizon… thank goodness!

The City Deal

This week our city Council submits an application to the government for a so-called ‘City Deal’. This means they’re making solid, actionable proposals about how they’d like to do things differently, and detailing exactly what needs to be done to make it happen.

With a bit of luck the project will give Brighton & Hove Council the tools and special powers it needs to drive healthier local economic growth as well as access projects and initiatives to boost our money-generating potential.

It should also bring about a revolutionary change by allowing the council to work across administrative boundaries, with the adjoining Adur and Lewes districts, to develop new environmental industries and turn our city into a recognised eco-hub. Which will help create new graduate-level jobs for some of our 7,000 graduates. And most exciting of all, they’re proposing a new eco-tech business centre at Toads Hole Valley, another job-generating, city-changing initiative.

All this good stuff has been inspired by our vibrant and hugely successful creative, digital and information technology sector. Which remains the star in Brighton & Hove’s economic firmament.

This is great news when many analysts think the first quarter of 2013 is set to be a dismal one, with negative growth in the UK economy as a whole. Britain looks set to lose our coveted AAA credit rating and all three of the top credit rating agencies have already put the country on what they call a ‘negative outlook’, which usually precedes a downgrade.

Wired Sussex takes the bit between their digital teeth

At the same time, Wired Sussex and the Council have secured £650,000 funding to support the city’s creative industries as part of a £6.4m umbrella project, Recreate. This’ll result in a new learning and support centre for start-ups and existing businesses in the creative and tech sectors, called Fusebox, sited at New England House.

The theory is that smaller digital business often operate in a fast-changing environment and, unlike big businesses in relatively stable sectors, they need an entirely different kind of support. The new initiative will host and help start-ups and freelancers in the sector, provide top class training and a dedicated venue for digital communities and groups. It’ll focus on highly creative ‘disruptive’ business thinking and will take inspiration from unusual, off-piste sources in line with the sector’s unique Zeitgeist.

The Recreate project as a whole is tasked with creating new work, exhibition, studio and learning spaces for creative entrepreneurs in the arts, creative and digital industries, with empty spaces in the city brought back to commercial life via a clever brokerage scheme. And a pop up shop scheme will see empty retail and other premises put to good use without all the usual bureaucracy.

If that all sounds good, it is. Making the city a hub for the green sector plays on our existing excellent environmental credentials and opens up a whole new world of opportunity. Our already-thriving digital and creative sector will get stronger. And both will drive new jobs and opportunities for small businesses, new and existing. If you were feeling a bit gloomy, plaster a smile on your face and go do business… things in our city are on the up!