The leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, Cllr David Poole and the interim chief executive, Christina Harrhy, recently visited a major global investment event held in Cannes, France, as part of a delegation from the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal. Here they write about the experience of showcasing the county borough and the wider region to a global audience, in a week when it emerged that the Caerphilly County Borough has moved up seven places in the 2019 UK Competitive Index league table.
We recently returned from a very successful visit to the South of France to showcase the Cardiff Capital Region and we were joined by colleagues from Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Bridgend councils.
The delegation attended the 2019 Marche International des Professionals d’Immobilier (MIPIM) – the world’s premier real estate event where some of the most influential figures from all sectors of the international property industry gather for four days of networking, learning and transactions. We were armed with a clear intent because economically, as a region, we are not where we want to be. We need a different approach; we need to attract investors and we went in search of them.
One of the Objectives of the City Deal is to attract £4 billion of private sector investment into the region. This level of investment can only be achieved by selling the region globally.
We found those investors at MIPIM – on a huge scale – think of the NEC on steroids. MIPIM is clearly the place to be in order to make key connections and position our region within the worldwide investment marketplace. The visit was about being visible and ‘on show’ to over 120 different countries, a whole spectrum of investors and more than 26,000 visitors. It gave us the opportunity to signal that we are ‘in the game’ and we have a plan for internationalisation.
The scale of the event was huge and it was evident that MIPIM is a key event in the annual business and investment calendar. We made a range of high-potential contacts and created new networks during our visit which will hopefully bring real benefits in the future.
We wanted to start creating a buzz about the Cardiff Capital Region and we definitely saw positive signs regarding potential future investment interest. This began with the launch of the CCR Economic Industrial strategy – a key investment document for the region. Launched initially at Penallta House, then London and finally Cannes.
It was followed by a series of convincing messages by the leaders of Cardiff, Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Monmouthshire and, of course, ourselves, showcasing the vibrancy, diversity and opportunities that the place and people of the region can offer.
Importantly, one of our unique selling points is the longevity of the political leadership that is demonstrated through the long-term agreement that binds the ten local authorities together – the strong political leadership as well as the vision for the region was clear to see and certainly attracted considerable investor interest.
As first-timers to MIPIM, we learnt a lot. The MIPIM offer was more than pure commercial property opportunities, rather more it was a blend of housing, energy and leisure and tourism. Great levers and opportunities for our region. As policy makers and place-shapers, it is crucial we keep ahead of the curve, ensuring we understand new technologies and contribute to current debates about the economy, legislation and environmental issues. We had the opportunity to do all of these.
Former secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, was probably the most high profile speaker at MIPIM, but there were many others at numerous venues, which combined, gave a great insight into how cities, regions and nations are evolving to face current and future challenges.
So is this a legitimate space for us to operate? Absolutely. However, it is not a place to sell individual councils, but it is the place to promote regions and nations. So next year, the Cardiff Capital Region will be back, but it must be part of an all-Wales presence.
So in summary MIPIM was a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the Cardiff Capital Region and the Caerphilly county borough to a global audience at a renowned industry event. All the partners involved agree that we must be proactive in the way we market and promote our regions in order to attract the jobs and investment that will transform South East Wales in the future.
In the meantime, our immediate attention now moves to following up the initial conversations we held with many contacts and turning them into positive actions.