Doing business in Crawley…

Photo credit: @redmason

This morning was the annual economic forum of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative (GDI). The Gatwick Diamond, for those unfamiliar , is the sub-region around Gatwick Airport heading North towards Croydon, South towards Brighton and extending outwards West and East…like a diamond. Creative naming, huh?

The Gatwick Diamond is one of the UK’s most productive sub-regions and Crawley sits at it’s heart, literally and metaphorically. These fora present an opportunity for economic actors in the area, public and private, to network and discuss the challenges and opportunities the sub-region faces.

Presentations from NatWest and Centre for Cities covered the area’s latest economic performance data, followed by useful commentary from GDI’s Rosemary French and an update from Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate. The good news is we remain a highly successful economic area, the bad news is we could do one hell of a lot better, both in terms of overall economic performance and ensuring residents feel the benefits of growth.

None of this came as a surprise and we’re already working on many of the issues presented, although having to do so very creatively given limits to our current funding and powers. No conference would be complete these days without some mention about the potential disruption brought about AI/automation and sure enough a question arose as part of the Q&A for the panel I was sitting on. It’s a big issue, automation was a major motivation behind the skills portion of our local manifestos but I’m not convinced anyone has an answer yet about the longer-term social and economic implications of AI. The technology is coming, the change will be big, the culture shift necessary for us to adapt will be far greater.

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