To launch this work and as a first step forward, a major study commissioned by Gatwick Airport has been released today (Tuesday 26 July) and examines how other thriving Airport Economic Zones (AEZs) around the world define , organize, and promote themselves.
ZAEs are airports and their surrounding regions that organize themselves collaboratively, so that they are better able to identify and promote themselves to attract foreign investment, which benefits both the airports and their regional economies.
Gatwick Airport commissioned Coast to Capital LEP to review 11 successful ZAEs, including the UK Innovation Corridor – linking Cambridge, Stansted Airport and London, Manchester Enterprise Zone, East Midlands Freeport and others around London airports. Singapore, San Diego, Barcelona, Tenerife and Dublin.
Creating an evidence base, each was benchmarked using metrics including skills and innovation infrastructure, gross value added, average earnings, and education levels. The same parameters were also used to look at three different economic zones around Gatwick:
Gatwick Diamond – 600 square mile region from Brighton to Croydon and locations east and west of GatwickCoast to Capital – 1060 square mile region with a network of functioning economic hubs around Gatwick Airport including Greater Brighton, West Sussex, East Surrey and CroydonFive Authorities – 3545sq mile area comprising all of West and East Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Brighton & Hove
Conclusions on what constitutes a successful AEZ included a clearly articulated identity created from attributes that distinguish a region, the use of local and national political power, and the skills, innovation and technical education at its core. .
To discuss and advance these findings, Gatwick will work with partners to:
– Organize a first regional economic summit in Gatwick on November 3 for stakeholders (including local businesses and economic organisations) to discuss, debate and influence the shape and form of any future Gatwick ZAE.
The summit will also focus on stimulating and increasing economic opportunity, long-term sustainable growth, promoting the visitor economy and improving the skills of the local workforce.
– Initiate discussions with foreign investment specialists
This report is a first step in understanding the ZAE landscape and how this could apply to future approaches to developing a regional identity by Gatwick Airport and its partners.
Following feedback from the research roundtable, next steps that could help inform future work include examining city-based inbound investment models, developing a better understanding of what a successful Gatwick area, ensuring progress on Gatwick AEZ links with existing works, and exploring other geographical areas to be included in any future Gatwick AEZ.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said: “Airports are major economic assets for the regions around them and attract international recognition, investment and jobs.
“It is however a competitive market, with the upgrade program influencing current national investment decisions and Brexit shaping things internationally.
“Given the severe impact the pandemic has had on the region and with so many well-organized competitors, it’s fitting that our region works together to coordinate and tell a more compelling story about what we do best. Today’s research is a positive first step.
“I look forward to working with our partners to create a successful regional identity that drives a thriving, resilient and diverse economy that makes a practical difference to our local communities and our youth for generations to come.
Anthony Middleton, Acting CEO of Coast to Capital, said: “Gatwick Airport is at the geographic and economic heart of our region. As the local business partnership for the region, we have always recognized the airport’s catalytic role in our economy – driving growth, trade and jobs.
“I am truly delighted that we were able to contribute to this research and I look forward to participating in future discussions with our partners and stakeholders on this topic.”
The full report is available here.