Opportunities for growth in climate of uncertainty

As we move in to the second half of 2019 there remains a high level of uncertainty, writes Dave Hales, managing partner, EY.

Despite this, there are still plenty of opportunities for growth, although challenges in the short to medium term are making it increasingly difficult for businesses to make future investment plans; particularly if they are considering large capital projects.

Some of the challenges faced by the region are magnified by the nature of trade and industry on the South Coast. For example, the Port of Southampton is one of Europe’s busiest. According to Hampshire County Council 1.5 million cruise ship visitors flow through the port annually. However, its place as a leading port for the automotive industry makes it vulnerable. Brexit uncertainty remains a significant challenge and it’s been well publicised that a no-deal, or less favourable deal, has the potential to impact automotive sector investment. In the case of some car manufacturers their decision to stay in the UK is hanging in the balance.

It’s clear, we need to generate our own opportunities for growth. As a city and a region, we continue to see great examples of businesses that are making a difference, adding value to the local economy and creating a thriving community where people want to live, work and prosper. The importance of supporting entrepreneurs remains an essential part of our vibrant economy. Now more than ever we see this as a core element of our business and of the success of the UK economy.

I was excited earlier this year to hear the news that Southampton intends to bid for City of Culture in 2025. If successful, it will bring a real focus to some of the existing plans set out by local government to support investment in the city, such as the regeneration of Southampton’s Business District; and be capable of bringing a £350 million plus boost for the local economy.

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As a business, EY are seeing real diversity in our own recruitment with many talented people joining us from overseas – over 40% of our workforce. Many have come to Southampton to study and stayed on, as they really love the city and what it has to offer. We are continuing to work hard on ensuring that we have the right offer for highly-skilled and capable individuals which in turn helps us meet the needs of our clients.

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