Winning UK City of Culture could bring a £73 million boost to Stoke-on-Trent’s economy in 2021 and create more than 1,800 new jobs, according to EY’s chief economist in the UK.
Mark Gregory, who recently led a study into the enormous economic and social impact of Stoke City Football Club being in the Premier League, believes landing the title would have a similarly dramatic effect on the city’s fortunes for years to come.
Mr Gregory, a business economist with more than 25 years’ experience in more than 40 countries as an adviser to governments and industry on economics, said: “Based on the work done to analyse the contribution of Stoke City FC to the local and regional economies, an additional impact of £73.1 million to the economy from being the UK City of Culture in 2021 appears very achievable given that the football club generated around £132 million in the 2015/16 season.
“An extensive programme of events on the scale envisaged for Stoke-on-Trent in 2021 has the potential to match the impact of the football club on the local economy. Major shifts in activity are possible, Stoke City FC have increased their revenues more than tenfold in the last decade, transforming the club on and off the field. There is no reason to believe a major programme such as UK City of Culture could not have a similarly dramatic effect.”
In Hull, the UK City of Culture for 2017, a study by the city’s university found more than 1.4 million visits to cultural events, exhibitions or activities in the first three months of this year.
Mr Gregory added: “Tourism to watch Premier League football in 2015/16 supported 401 jobs in the region. With the City of Culture forecast to attract almost 10 times more visitor spend, the creation of 1,800 jobs overall appears readily achievable with the potential for a significantly greater impact especially over the medium term, establishing the region as a destination for a wider group of visitors.
“One of the unique features of the Stoke-on-Trent bid is the direct relationship between the creative nature of the ceramic industry and the wider cultural agenda. The potential for additional benefits from the increased awareness of the sector, its world class skill base in the city, and the stimulus to creativity and innovation from the wide programme of activities planned for 2021, will almost certainly create benefits beyond the scope of any economic forecast – this is a one-off shift in the profile of the city and its trademark industry.
“Glasgow more than doubled the number of inward investment projects attracted in the year after it staged the Commonwealth Games and maintained this performance in 2016. Stoke-on-Trent should be looking to achieve a similar impact if it wins the competition, offering the prospect of several hundred jobs being created over time.”
Stoke-on-Trent is one of five cities in the running to be named UK City of Culture 2021, alongside Sunderland, Swansea, Paisley and Coventry. Judges for the competition visited the city last month as part of their tour of the candidate cities and the winner will be announced in Hull in December.
Councillor Abi Brown, bid chair for Stoke-on-Trent 2021, said: “We have talked a lot about the huge economic impact winning UK City of Culture 2021 would have on Stoke-on-Trent, and these comments from EY’s chief economist really back up what we have been saying. Winning would be a game-changer for Stoke-on-Trent, bigger than anything we can imagine.
“Being UK City of Culture would bring tourists, investment and attention to our city, which all go hand-in-hand with regeneration. We’ve given ourselves the best chance possible with a compelling bid document and a really successful and positive visit by the judges to the city last month.”
Councillor Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure and who is part of the bid team, said: “We’ve already seen the huge benefits of winning for Hull and this reaffirms for the people of Stoke-on-Trent why it’s so important that we do all we can to win up to the final judging panel in Hull in December. We know everyone in the city will do all they can to support the bid and it’s excellent to see what the prize could bring if we win.
“Winning City of Culture would have a massive impact on people’s perceptions of Stoke-on-Trent on a national and international level. We are all working very hard to change those perceptions, but it’s a tough task and I have no doubt becoming City of Culture would accelerate that work hugely. It’s great to hear an expert such as Mark Gregory is of the same opinion.”