I find it useful to step back occasionally and reflect on the progress of Derby’s regeneration journey.
When I do, I’m generally astonished by the support that we have been able to tap into when promoting the city to investors on that journey.
This month has been as good as any in the progress that we are making as a city.
Last week, we held one of our events which we generally badge as a Derby Embassy. On this occasion it was a private investor reception held at the prestigious Ritz Hotel in the heart of London’s West End.
In attendance, were London-based investors who have choices as where to put their money and our job was to build their confidence in the Derby proposition.
We now have a very strong Team Derby ethos and the Marketing Derby message was ably supported by our key ambassadors at the reception from both public and private sectors.
In many ways, the event started in the first class lounge on platform 6 at Derby Station where our Bondholder, East Midlands Trains, kindly hosted delegates ready to set off on what we sometimes call the ‘Bondholder Express’.
We chose the Ritz, partly due to its heritage and partly due to its location, right on the doorstep of most of our investor targets. Locations such as this are key to our Embassy proposition as it attracts interest and reduces no-shows.
Delegates heard from the Deputy Leader of Derby City Council, Martin Rawson, on how the new city centre Masterplan is central to the regeneration of Derby as well as reiterating Council support for Marketing Derby.
Keynote speaker was Paul Harris, the Director of Economic Development at Rolls-Royce, who gave a stunning account of the company’s local, national and global footprints as well as reiterating the support Rolls-Royce has for the city’s development.
A company employing over 14,000 well-paid talented people was a message not lost on the investors in the room.
Later in the week, Marketing Derby hosted a stand at MIPIM UK, an offshoot of the larger property show held in Cannes each March. There, we held a Derby Showcase Question and Answer session on the emerging collaboration between Derby and Nottingham.
Membership of the panel included Martin Rawson, Deputy Leader of Derby City Council as well as Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Head of External Affairs at East Midlands Airport, Jack Kelly.
Of course, there are times when Nottingham and Derby compete but, more often than not, we are incredibly collaborative, especially on an international platform, where the synergy of the two cities make for a stronger offer.
A perfect example of our ability to compete and co-operate is next week’s Trade and Investment Mission to China.
This will see cities such as Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton visit their twin cities across China, as well as coming together in Shanghai, under the badge of the Midlands Engine.
In the case of Derby, our Chinese partner city is Hefei and the county is linked with the surrounding Province of Anhui.
These links are encouraged and support by both UK and Chinese governments and Derby’s connections were accelerated by a successful visit made by Derby City Council Leader and Chief Executive, Ranjit Banwait and Paul Robinson, earlier this year.
The team visiting China is strong and includes not only the City and County Council but also representatives from the Derby Renaissance Board, University of Derby, East Midlands Chamber and, of course, Marketing Derby.
We will be holding an Embassy event in Hefei which is being supported by companies such as Train FX (based in Derby with Chinese ownership) and, of course, Rolls-Royce, who have a significant presence and customer base in China.
It’s interesting to see how quickly the cities in the Midlands have cooperated in targeting Chinese investors, and it’s absolutely essential that Derby is seen to be a part of this.
The potential for such activity today is often prefaced by the phrase ‘post-Brexit’ but it’s my opinion, Brexit or no Brexit, the UK has to continue to deepen economic ties with what has become the world’s powerhouse.
This could be game-changing, but it is patient play. The Chinese value relationships and symbols, and this visit is an essential component of that.
Cities such as Birmingham and Sheffield have started to reap the rewards of their time invested in such relationships and we are hopeful that Derby will be soon joining that club bringing jobs and investment to help develop our city.