Business leaders have set out how they believe Croydon can attract more investment.
Creating a business-growth environment, promoting infrastructure and the regeneration message, and providing incentives were all put forward at the Develop Croydon conference.
David Slater of London and Partners told delegates at the ‘Next Stop Croydon’ session that assets which attracted investors generally, included access to talent, business rates and access to capital.
He explained that there has been a lot of focus on supporting start-ups but the problem is “grow-on space” which isn’t readily available in places like Shoreditch and Soho.
“Croydon is playing a real role where businesses can go to get space that’s fitted out to the same spec,” he said.
He added: “Leaving the EU means it’s easy for people to sell negatively against us. So, it’s important to stick to where we as a city can add value to a company. Croydon has good infrastructure and a large financial/business professional cluster. All these businesses are looking to be more creative over the next 10 years. It’s not about being cheaper, it’s about being better value, that’s the proposition for Croydon.”
He also spoke about the importance of Croydon presenting a unique and credible offer.
“Every city is trying to attract new business so how do you differentiate yourself? Straplines are pointless. They want to know that you want their business and can help them achieve their drivers. They can see through the guff,” he said.
Craig Marks of Menta agreed.
“Investors are a sophisticated animal,” he said. “They want infrastructure and Croydon has Gatwick, the City, West End, the beach and sea nearby. Croydon has been good at packaging master plans and putting out the message of what it has to offer, what the regeneration has to offer.”
This offer combined with the housing and office development in East Croydon as well as the plan for a new station really makes Croydon stand out, he said. “It’s a tangible package; somewhere to live, somewhere to play, work opportunities linked into Gatwick, the beach, Victoria and The City. It’s really unique.”
He added that incentives helped to attract investors. For example, rental reductions such as that offered by Stanhope Schroders to HMRC, rates’ reductions and how these can be “catapulted back into the economy”.
Stephen King of Gatwick Airport highlight how Croydon was the first business hub as you travel towards London.
“We want Croydon to grow as it provides more passengers coming into the airport,” he said. “And investors want to get their people in and out quickly.”