Peterborough development company ‘delivers £150 for every £1 invested’

Opportunity Peterborough, the development company wholly owned by Peterborough City Council, has claimed delivery of £150 for every £1 invested a meeting has heard.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:56 pm
Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough

Speaking to members of the Peterborough City Council Shareholder Cabinet Committee on Monday, Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough, said: “We are here to help build a resilient economy and make Peterborough a city of the future.

“We do this by supporting Peterborough’s businesses to grow, innovate, diversify, create new, good quality jobs and become more resilient and more sustainable.

“This then attracts new companies to the city to create new, good quality jobs and support a diverse and vibrant economy.

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“We want to make sure students and workers have the skills they need to have power in the jobs market and by raising the career aspirations of young people.

“To do this we’re working with partners at a strategic level to create an enabling environment by addressing barriers to growth in areas such as infrastructure and skills.

“Our aim is to deliver the Future Peterborough programme to help make Peterborough a smarter, more sustainable, resilient and attractive city in which to work, live and play.

“But, as with everything over the past 12 months, the coronavirus pandemic has made the work that we do that bit more challenging, and consequently we’re looking at the successes we’ve had in that time as well as some of those areas where our efforts have not worked out as we might’ve wished.

“It has been a very challenging time, but I can tell members of the Shareholder Cabinet that for every £1 of the £140,000 that Peterborough City Council has invested with Opportunity Peterborough, we have delivered £150 of real worth back into the city for its future development.

“During 2020/21, Opportunity Peterborough handled 35 inward investment enquiries, conducted 78 investor development meetings and supported 42 investment projects creating 700 jobs across Greater Peterborough.

“In addition, we supported the creation of £21 million plus of additional economic output in the Greater Peterborough area, a return of over £150 for every £1 invested by Peterborough City Council.

“Had this service been procured by an independent agency the equivalent market price for the services we currently provide for £140,000 per annum would exceed £935,000 per annum.

“As we move into financial year 2021/22 we know there will be more challenges ahead for as for many businesses in our area and country.

“But we’re confident with the support of the city council that Opportunity Peterborough will be here for a long time to come, and as part of that we’ve already secured financial support for many of the projects that we want to use to promote and make Peterborough a better place – a better place to work, to invest in and to do business.

“We also want to let the world know that Peterborough is a great place to visit and enjoy and, above all, to call home.”

Steve Cox, council executive director for economy and place, said: “More so than ever before, highlighting the successes of Peterborough is vital now and in a post-Covid-19 world – and Opportunity Peterborough does that admirably.

“As we come out of Covid-19 and the economic crisis we need to be positioning Peterborough as the place to invest in, and that is exactly why the city council set the company up in the first place.”

Cllr Steve Allen asked: “I see that you will be taking over the ‘Visit Peterborough’ website, which I agree does need some work done to it.

“With tourism and business close to my heart as cabinet member for housing, culture and recreation do you have the specialist team in place to take on a challenge of this nature, because it’s very different selling the aspiration of tourism to selling factory units and commercial properties?”

Mr Hennessy replied: “I believe our marketing team are good at both traditional marketing methods and digital marketing that you need today.

“We’ll be looking very closely at working with partners across the city to deliver this project, including the existing tourism officers at the council, as well all the attractions of Peterborough and its surrounding area, the hotels, retail and leisure, all of whom have a wealth of experience in promoting this city to tourists.

“We need to get the messaging right, developing packages for specific types of visitor to the city, but our primary audience must remain the residents of Peterborough so that they’re made aware of all the attractions of the city they live in and that they feel encouraged and safe to visit them.”

Members agreed to continue the support of Opportunity Peterborough.