The Covid-19 Pandemic has wreaked economic havoc across the globe and Bristol, along with the rest of the UK is facing the worst economic emergency since the great depression nearly a century ago. Bristol’s One City Partners have launched an ambitious and robust response to its economic crisis.
The One City Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy identified and intends to focus on three main priorities. First: people and the local labour market. Second: business and investment. Third: Bristol’s places. Each priority has its own wide-ranging, detailed goals, linked to specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Each priority lists a plethora of areas requiring attention from infrastructure to housing to attracting international and local tourism to the city.
Areas of labour-focused support include regenerating digital access, encouraging engagement with available state funding, improved opportunities for young locals and better apprenticeship offers. Bristol’s businesses are encouraged to identify post-pandemic best practice and receive robust support for re-opening and tackling the post-pandemic market conditions. Bristol’s places taps into the renewable strategies for long standing socio and economically deprived areas.
Decisive action needed
Last June, Bristol One City released its Economic Recovery Statement of Intent (page 9 of the strategy document PDF), which articulated the seismic local challenges revealed by the global pandemic. Issues such as local inequality, the scope of risk facing local businesses and social services are featured alongside data detailing the effects the pandemic has had on daily life.
The report acknowledges socio and economic challenges pre-dated the pandemic, and plots Bristol’s path towards recovery. Bristol doesn’t just want to recover, it wants to uproot long-standing issues and transform them into viable, sustainable and innovative solutions.
With over 70,000 Bristol workers furloughed, the city’s unemployment rate has rocketed to 4.5% between March and September last year. The suffocating reach of the pandemic extends across every facet of daily life and through no fault of their own, people have lost jobs, livelihoods and their way of life.
Mayor Rees emphasised the significance of directly tackling poverty, health and education shortfalls. “The city’s recovery from COVID-19 must acknowledge that tackling poverty must go hand in hand with improving health and education, reducing inequality, stimulating growth and tackling climate change,” he said
Rather than approaching these issues individually, Bristol’s One City Economic Recovery and Renewable Strategy intends to improve conditions across the board by stimulating the local economy through infrastructure and renewable projects. The initiative will create attractive investment opportunities, assist local businesses in keeping their doors open, help employed workers keep their jobs and create new jobs for those left behind by the pandemic.
The launch of Bristol’s One City Partners’ Economic Recovery Strategy signals a determined response to the catastrophic effect the pandemic has wrought on economies everywhere. Details surrounding plans to invest £10m across every area of Bristol’s socio and economic infrastructure over the next two years reveal a city drawing on the expertise and voices from every facet of its community.
Bristol united as one voice
Rather than retreat into the relative comfort of the past, Bristol’s confident initiative intends to catapult Bristol’s quality of life into the future. This is a comprehensive, sincere attempt to unify, rally and renew its economic, environmental and social infrastructure. Bristol has consciously captured the concerns of its community, from its grassroots to local business leaders.
Sado Jirde, Director of the Black South West Network, echoed Mayor Rees’ call to action and provided further local insight. Jirde said community voices from the beating heart of Bristol’s dynamic approach. “This Economic Recovery Strategy places inclusive economic development at its core by catalysing inclusion to implement a shared agenda that expands opportunity. Recovery must include the voices of those too often left out of the design of initiatives developed to help them.”
This inclusivity and emphasis on community will ensure Bristol’s renewable recovery scheme will achieve its goals. The voices of over 300 City Partners are included in the robust Economic Recovery Strategy, focusing on three main pillars of action: people and labour markets; business and investment, and Bristol’s places. The nucleus of each pillar features detailed analysis, sustainable solutions and inclusivity.
Global thinking propels Bristol’s recovery
Rather than reinvent the wheel, Bristol chose to think globally. The city intends to capitalise on the success of existing global initiatives, by incorporating them at a local level. They have elected to use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to effectively capture, measure and share their progress.
The focus and tenacity of local leaders is palpable. James Durie is the Chief Executive of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce for Business West. Durie believes their strategy ensures that Bristol will avoid slumping back into pre-pandemic conditions. Crucial buy-in from the local industry and community helps reflect the shared goals of neighbours across the West of the country.
In order to achieve a carbon-neutral, ecologically responsible, economically viable and sustainable future for Bristol, Durie said an Action Plan must be implemented. He explained that it must answer fundamental questions such as how Bristol intends to achieve its goals and how it will meet the cost. Durie believes these answers will breathe life into the Action Plan and the efforts of Bristol’s One City Approach.
The road ahead is paved with hard work and Durie emphasised that Bristol is ready to meet the challenges head-on. The collaborative approach of Bristol’s Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy integrates industry leaders including representatives from West of England Combined Authority. These layers of cooperative innovation ensure regional needs are reflected in Bristol’s transformation.
Many municipalities around the world do not have the local cohesion Bristol has worked so hard to achieve and it is a testament to the collective effort powering Bristol to this point, that the city is in such a fantastic position to be a leading example of a successful post-pandemic economic recovery and renewal.