focus on southampton Spotlight on the City of Southampton

Now is the time for businesses to come together and engage with the City’s bid for UK City of Culture 2025, writes Peter Taylor – managing partner of Paris Smith LLP – chair of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Group

Signs greeting those arriving in Southampton bear the words “Welcome to Southampton – Global Gateway to the world.” The words “Global Gateway” are powerful ones. They identify Southampton rightly as being on the international stage with its network of road, sea, rail and air links – subject to the current restrictions of the pandemic. However, “Gateway” can also leave one with the impression of a place which one passes through rather than as a destination and a place to dwell, enjoy, work, live and thrive. Southampton is building its reputation as a destination.

The city has so much to offer, of which all who live and work in it should be rightly proud. Yes, there are issues to address and as human beings we are hardwired to look

for the negatives. It is part of our DNA and has protected us during evolution. That said, the people of Southampton are resilient. The city survived wartime bombings and there is much from which to take pride.

Creativity and innovation are visible across Southampton whether it be at the two universities, the science parks or individual businesses engaging in new ways to deliver their offering. By way of example, Southampton University Hospital has been at the heart of development of a vaccine for Covid-19. Venturefest is an annual show founded on the commercial development of new ideas and designs.

The city boasts two international sports stadia, the Ageas Bowl and

St Mary’s stadium, a port of global recognition, strong education establishments for all age groups (including two successful universities) a theatre of national recognition, an art gallery full of some of the finest paintings in the country and a vibrant retail shopping centre. The list goes on.

Southampton is feeling the impact of the pandemic, the uncertainties of Brexit and the fall out of global geo-political issues of China, Russia and the forthcoming US presidential elections. The cruise industry which is an important part of the local economy will take months to recover.

Southampton Chamber of Commerce, part of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, was established in March 2020. Its purpose is to be the voice of business in the city, to help its members connect and grow. The Chamber serves as a conduit of information between business and the stakeholders in the city region. It has welcomed the launch of the Business Task Force by councillor Chris Hammond, leader of Southampton City Council, to bring a collaborative response amongst business groups to the challenges faced during 2020.

It is against this backdrop that Southampton’s bid for UK City of Culture 2025 has particular relevance. The economic and social benefits which other cities have seen


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