In her first speech to the Conservative Party Conference as Prime Minister, Theresa May referenced the long-term investment plans of Siemens into Hull as one of the reasons why Britain was ready for a new era of successful global trade and business.
Political posturing aside it was wonderful to hear a Yorkshire initiative referenced alongside global manufacturers Apple in a Prime Minister’s speech, and a reminder of the international reach our regional economy offers.
However what was even more gratifying was that it cited a booming business initiative in the great and often unfairly maligned city of Hull.
When was the last time, or has there ever been, an occasion in which a Prime Minister referenced Hull in a landmark address? I will leave that to the historians among you to apply the pollyfiller to my ignorance.
The city’s geographical location has made it one of the most important ports in the country’s history but the fishing industry that once formed the bedrock of its economy has long fallen away.
Indeed a parallel can be drawn between Hull and another former powerhouse city across the Atlantic.
Detroit was once the motor city, home to the automobile manufacturing epicentre of the world’s biggest economy but which a few years ago fell into bankruptcy.
Like Hull, Detroit had become a byword for decline but since that nadir the home of Motown has begun to reinvent itself as a tech powerhouse. It’s once deserted city centre now provides 50 per cent of the city’s jobs despite representing only three per cent of the land mass, all from nurturing and enhancing high skilled manufacturing and software companies.
Now similarly Hull stands on the precipice of a potentially massive new chapter in its proud history. In little over 80 days time Hull I assume the role of the UK’s City of Culture.
Countless column inches have been written about the economic benefits the 365 days will bring to the city, estimated to be in the millions.
And this is after you look at the millions that has been earmarked for Hull already in the past 18 months. Reckitt Benckiser is spending £150m on a state-of-the-art research and development centre in the city.
Work has already started on the aforesaid £310m Siemens site, creating 1,000 new jobs in the process.
A new £200m Energy Works that will generate energy from household waste and the City Council has invested almost £100m in housing. In August port operator ABP unveiled investment plans of £140m into new quays to service the windfarms. And let us not forget that, in a region of sleeping footballing giants, only Hull can boast an English Premier League football team.
Perhaps most tellingly of all, less than two weeks after the vote to leave the European Union precipitated the largest amount of commercial uncertainty in a decade, chemical firm INEOS Oxide confirmed it was to undertake a multimillion pound expansion of its Hull site to increase its production of Ethyl Acetate to 100,000 tonnes a year.
Following the announcement the city’s chamber of commerce told The Yorkshire Post that the move “reinforces the area’s desirability”, a mantra long repeated by the region’s business community who have been for years attempting to tell the UK for years, that Hull offers a very high quality of life at a low cost of living.
With a burgeoning green economy, high-skilled jobs and a shop window which can bring people to the city for the entirety of the year, Hull now has the opportunity to not only take the city to the next level but show the country and indeed the world what it can do. With that in mind the cost of living might not be so cheap for too long.
Savy property investors may do well to start thinking about Hull as the next big thing.