Stuart Patrick: Why there are reasons to be cheerful about future of Glasgow

Never has it felt more necessary to start a new year with optimism.

This must be the year when the pandemic, its frenetic, twenty-four hours a day news coverage and the debates over the implications of public health scenarios fade into the background. We need to turn our minds to recovery, to growth and to fresh experiences.

Glasgow may have been battered by the Covid-19 crisis but it has every reason to be confident and there is a great deal to anticipate.

The city’s effectiveness in hosting major events was fully demonstrated with COP26 and this year the planning will continue both for the 2023 Cycling World Championships and for Glasgow’s unprecedented second time round as 2023 European Capital of Sport.

And, on top of that, we have the World Indoor Athletics Championships to look forward to in 2024. Glasgow Life has done a first class job in securing those events.

This year will also see the Burrell Collection reopen in the spring after a five-year programme of repair and refurbishment.

Welcoming its first visitors back in 1983, the Burrell was one of the earliest steps in Glasgow’s transformation into a contemporary, creative capital, drawing on its rich and diverse cultural heritage.

I would like to think that 2022 will be the year that the Scottish Events Campus secures the £180 million it needs to carry out its next phase of investment. Only a handful of assets generate as much return for Scotland as the SEC and the new funds will help expand the main conferencing facilities to serve the biggest world events while making the SEC one of the most modern and sustainable venues on the planet.

Glasgow was named the world’s best festival and events destination at the 2019 World Travel Awards in Oman. Clearly travel demand has been heavily suppressed in the last two years, however we are surely due a significant boost next year and the city is well placed to recover the momentum that resulted in that accolade.

We will though have to work hard to support the team at Glasgow Airport to rebuild its international route network and we will be looking to both the UK and Scottish Governments to play their part.

Next to the airport, we can also look forward to the opening of the HQ for the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland. That will be a centrepiece for the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District led by the University of Strathclyde and already features strengths in metallurgy and medicines manufacturing. That the University was recently awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work in advanced manufacturing simply confirms the hopes we already have for re-emphasising Glasgow’s credentials as an engineering city.

Additionally, we can expect to see some new facilities opening at the University of Glasgow as its extensive campus development project continues. Due to be completed this year are the £116m Advanced Research Centre and the £50m Clarice Pears building for the University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing – important steps towards a closer relationship with industry as the campus plan unfolds.

We also have high hopes that the next stages of the Scottish Government’s review of strategic transport projects (STPR2) will finally confirm the importance of the Glasgow Metro. The early stages of the review recognised both a growing population in the Glasgow City Region and the desperate need to invest in the city’s public transport system. An announcement that the key connection to Glasgow Airport is going ahead quickly would be a very welcome boost.

You might notice I have said nothing about our hard-pressed city centre. That deserves a review of its own.

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

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