Sustained effort needed to secure economic legacy for local communities

The findings from a study of the potential economic impacts of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and associated regeneration upon communities in the East End of Glasgow are published today.

The overall assessment is that the CWG and associated regeneration are likely to have a short term positive economic impact upon the East End of Glasgow and that medium- to long-term, sustained economic improvements are also possible.  Sustained economic gains for the East End depend to a large extent upon the regeneration effort continuing in the post-Games period for a further 10-15 years, and upon strategic partnership working and mutual support between relevant public agencies, with a common focus and degree of priority upon the East End.

The study identified around 60 national and local legacy programmes and developments with potential for economic impact, including: the development of business networks; capital investment projects; employability schemes; and marketing and inward investment programmes.   Many of these developments and programmes can be partly or wholly attributed to the advent of the Commonwealth Games, but some were pre-existent.

Employability programmes and construction activity have delivered opportunities for people in the East End.  In a 2012 pre-Games survey of around 1,000 adults GoWell researchers found:

  • 16% of the working-age cohort had undertaken training, an apprenticeship or work experience in the past year related to CWG preparations and regeneration activity in the area.  
  • 6% of the cohort had gained employment in the past two years related to the construction or operation of sports & infrastructure developments in the area.

Further targeting of employability programmes towards East End residents would be desirable, although this would compete against wider legacy objectives for the city.  Pre- and in-work support programmes for people further from the labour market, especially those with health issues, may be needed as well as job brokering.

Multi-sports events often have economic impacts through both tourism and the development of a (sports) events sector after the Games. Glasgow has a good chance of gaining economically in these ways, given the city’s track record in these areas, and the reputational advantage to be gained from a successful CWG itself. However, economic impacts upon the East End from tourism and events could be strengthened by the development and promotion of further visitor attractions and experiences in the area, and by improvements to the physical environment and amenities for the use of event participants and visitors, and local people.

Sustained economic gains for the East End are more likely to come from continued regeneration activity, and the provision of employment opportunities in new business premises, than from post-Games effects.  Promoting the city as a business location on the back of a successful CWG will however be important.  The need for sustained regeneration activity is indicated by the fact that, since the Games were awarded in 2007, and regeneration in the area commenced:

  • The amount of vacant and derelict land in the area has been reduced by a fifth, but there are still 80 hectares of vacant & derelict land in the area to be re-used.
  • 1,800 jobs will have been (re)located into new business premises in the area by 2015, but this is only part of the total number of jobs in potential developments.

As regeneration proceeds, and continued attempts are made to attract employers (businesses and public agencies) to the East End, a number of other elements could help to achieve economic legacy objectives including:

  • Strategic partnership working and ongoing co-operation between relevant public agencies responsible for planning, regeneration, business development, inward investment, skills and training, and employment services.
  • Ensuring that local people are prepared, skilled, and supported to access job opportunities as they arise.
  • Consideration being given to a more strategic approach to economic development, including identifying key sectors for growth in the area.
  • Providing a higher-quality environment, including green spaces, shops, cafes, other amenities, to attract and retain skilled workers and residents in the area.

Professor Ade Kearns, co-author of the report said: “The Commonwealth Games were said to give athletes the confidence and experience to go on to even better things.  They also provide a similar opportunity for the communities of the East End of Glasgow, as long as the regeneration focus and effort are sustained over the coming years.”

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Notes to editors

GoWell is a collaborative partnership between the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) and the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.

GoWell in the East End is being funded by the Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland and sportscotland and runs from 2012 to 2017.

First published: 7 August 2014

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