New city is top place in England for business – official

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Milton Keynes has been identified as the best local authority area in England for investment and business.

The new city has topped the table in what is described as the “most detailed and comprehensive study ever conducted into the inward investment and business potential” of all 325 council areas.

Local government magazine The MJ teamed up with researchers Local Futures to look into the best local authority areas for business investment. Milton Keynes pipped South Cambridgeshire, Basingstoke and Deane, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Researchers also looked at the top five cities and towns, Milton Keynes topped that one, too.

The top five cities and towns are Milton Keynes, Warrington, Brighton and Hove, Swindon and York.

Researchers pored over hundreds of statistical sets to form their conclusions on the attractiveness of England’s regions to investors and for doing business.

The data should help Milton Keynes work with its local partners to develop strategies to growth. A recent study by Lord Heseltine into the growth agenda recommended more public and private money be invested in the English regions, with funds being allocated through the Local Enterprise Partnerships. He said that he wanted “to mobilise the skills of provincial England.”

David Hill, chief executive of Milton Keynes Borough Council told The MJ magazine that his council was completely focused on the economic agenda. He said: “In 2010 we reframed our corporate strategy so our focus was on delivering aspirations for economic development.

“Our strategy is to facilitate business start-up and inward investment. So it’s great to see our success confirmed by the statistical analysis from the Local Futures survey.”

The MJ Local Futures study includes statistics on skills, qualifications and knowledge workers, which will enable investors to compare areas depending on their labour force requirements.

The survey precedes the chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday (December 5), in which measures to promote local economic growth will feature prominently. In addition, the localisation of the business rate from April 2013, with its supposed fiscal incentives for growth, will focus local authorities on their attractiveness for inward investors.

The findings are arranged in three main categories, economic performance, human resources and environment and infrastructure. Each is made up of five composite indicators, which have been equally weighted to provide summary scores in league table form.

The final index is an overall score based on all 15 indicators in the form of a league table from 1 to 325 (counties are not included as they are judged on district boundaries).

John Fisher, director of Local Futures, said: “While the final findings tell a fascinating story of England in terms of the places that have a range of assets relevant to inward investors, our analysis shows that every place has some strengths.

“Identifying the nature of those strengths is key for local authorities interested in marketing their places and making them attractive to inward investors.’

Michael Burton, editorial director of The MJ said: “We know that delivering economic growth is among local authorities’ top priorities and there will be a financial incentive with next year’s localisation of the business rate. The big question is how they can find out their areas’ strengths and weaknesses. This research will help them achieve this.”

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