We welcome guest-blogger Hisashi Kuboyama, Development Manager for West of Scotland, Federation of Small Businesses.
In last year’s Autumn Statement, the UK Government confirmed it would open talks over a £500 million City Deal for Stirling. According to Stirling Council’s master plan, City Deal has the potential to create 3,000 jobs, AND increase tourism by 25 per cent.
At FSB, we welcome the capital investment City Deal represents and the partnership working it generates among local authorities. We hope that City Deal will benefit Stirling’s businesses, particularly micro and small businesses.
There are over 4,000 registered businesses in Stirling, and almost nine out of ten of them are small and micro firms. They account for 30% of turnover, and employ nearly 15,000 people – which is around two in five private sector jobs. Clearly, they play a significant part in our local economy.
We want City Deal to deliver for these local smaller firms, particularly through procurement.
Once finalised, City Deal investment will bring huge supply chain opportunities. It’s vital that smaller businesses are given a fair chance to access these, because our research has consistently pointed to the economic benefits of buying from small, local firms.
Take our research with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). It shows that every £1 spent with local SMEs generated an additional 63p of benefit for the local economy, compared to just 40p when it is spent with large local firms.
So, if you spend money with a local smaller firm, more money will stay in your local neighbourhood and that should create more jobs and opportunities.
For City Deal to deliver benefits to local smaller businesses, it is critical to make sure that we do everything we can to help local smaller businesses win city-deal related contracts, and benefit from supply-chain opportunities. This is one of the reasons why we called for an independent Small Business Champion for the deal. While this might be difficult with large infrastructure projects, on other fronts there’s a real opportunity.
City Deal could give the local economy the shot in the arm it needs, but we need to squeeze every drop of value from its spending power. We have to make sure that local businesses get their fair share.