Bristol in top spot as ‘small city of the future’
BRISTOL has been named Europe's best small "city of the future".
Each year the influential business publication FDI Magazine ranks the major population centres against one another in terms of commerce, economies and standards of living. And its European Cities and Regions of the Future report has named Bristol as the continent's best small city, beating rivals including Zurich, Antwerp, Lyon and Manchester.
The magazine provides information on foreign direct investment – giving its readers pointers on the best places to put their capital in order to make more money. Its survey rates Bristol particularly highly in terms of business friendliness and the strength of its economy.
The researchers said that the city's high concentration of hi-tech and digital firms has helped to make it one of the most important commercial centres in Europe.
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Bristol has already been given the label of "silicon gorge" in recognition of the high number of high-tech companies operating in and around the area.
Other qualities that set Bristol apart include its excellent quality of life, says the independent panel of researchers.
The city was 16th overall out of all European cities and in the top ten for a number of other categories. It claimed the top spot as European small city of the future, third in the rankings for business friendliness and third in the table for its foreign investment strategy.
The city came seventh in the list when it comes to the overall standard of living – but tellingly missed out on a top ten placing among small cities for the quality of its infrastructure.
City council leader Barbara Janke said: "This is excellent news that Bristol has received this independent award for its attractiveness to international investment. It reinforces why firms such as Danish offshore and marine engineering firm LIC Energy have chosen to open a new UK office in Bristol in recent months.
"We pride ourselves on being a business-friendly city and we are determined to create the right conditions for new investors to locate here and create jobs. This is why the council is working side by side with the Local Enterprise Partnership, creating opportunities for thousands of jobs at Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and throughout the West of England area."
West of England Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Colin Skellett said: "We are very clear that Bristol and the West of England area has the skills and sector expertise to attract investment on the international stage. These awards are ringing endorsement of these strengths and will help us market ourselves to prospective investors."
Nigel Hutchings, the regional affairs director for Business West, formerly the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, said: "They are telling us what we already know but it is still nice to get this pat on the back. There are plenty of great things about Bristol but we should not forget that there are issues that still need to be addressed in terms of accessibility and connectivity. We have got a great airport and a new science park which will eventually lead to the creation of 5,000 new jobs.
"We have all the ingredients that go to make up a great city and it is great to have this kind of recognition. It is nice when somebody tells you from the outside what you already know."
Federation of Small Businesses Bristol branch chairman Guy Kingston said: "When you look at most studies on the best place to do business they put Bristol at the top of the shortlist of locations.
"However, what this city needs is a council which keeps working with businesses and doesn't introduce silly policies such as a workplace parking levy. It is vital that Bristol stays competitive rather than introducing measures that will drive businesses away."