Northampton – competing in the global arena
Although there’s a certain little event taking place in London, the capital isn’t the only place attracting international attention at the moment.
I was delighted to be one of the fortunate few who met Princess Benedikte of Denmark on her visit to Northampton this week. As well as showcasing what the town has to offer, the visit was an ideal time to herald the companies that have made Northampton something of a Danish business outpost.
I’m not just talking about Carlsberg’s longstanding presence in the town – a host of their compatriots are brewing their own success stories in Northampton. They range from energy firms like Nordjysk Elhandel to distributors such as DKL Marketing.
But although I’m pleased to discover there’s so much Danish investment in the town, I’m certainly not surprised. In a recent report by think tank Centre for Cities, Northampton is classed as having an ‘open, entrepreneurial economy’ – which is the best classification of the four available. Meanwhile, from our own research, we know that vacancy rates for industrial units and office space in Northampton are below the national average, despite the struggling economy.
Notably, it’s international as well as domestic companies that are filling this space. You don’t have to look far to see global brands such as BMW or Avon plying their trade in the town. This has helped Northampton boast one of the best records for private sector jobs growth of any of its UK counterparts.
So, how can this performance in a global marketplace be maintained, or even improved? There’s a predictable but nonetheless precise answer – ‘investment’. Historically, the UK has invested far less of its GDP in infrastructure than other developed nations. Partly, this is why our productivity lags far behind comparable economies like France. It also hampers our ability to attract, sustain and grow new businesses. In West Northamptonshire, the Corporation is attracting and targeting resources where they can support economic growth most. This ranges from the redevelopment of Northampton Railway Station to Northampton Waterside.
Towns and cities like Northampton have global competitors that are growing in number and stature. That’s why it so important for us to respond to the challenge and invest in the future. It’s an increasingly tough and international competition. However, Northampton is taking the right steps to climb the medal table.