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New Report Reveals That Cities and Regions Must Invest in Transport Infrastructure to Remain Competitive in the Fight for Investment Spend and Skilled Workers

November 2, 2009

LONDON, November 3 /PRNewswire/ –

– 81% of Senior Business People Rate Transport as More Critical to Their
Decision to Invest now Than Five Years Ago.

Today Invest Thames Gateway, the lead international inward investment
agency for the Thames Gateway region, launches a new report, ‘Smart
connections: The essential role of transport for borderless business’.

Written by Professor Austin Smyth, Head of the Department of Transport
Studies at the Westminster University, the findings are supported by the
opinions of over 300 senior international business people, surveyed by
leading pollsters YouGov.

In the face of a global recession which has called into question the
future of many transport infrastructure projects; this new research reveals
that the quality of transport infrastructure in a city or region is front of
mind in four out of five business location decision-makers. The ‘face to
face’ elements of business afforded by transport networks remain critical to
almost half of senior business people despite the increase in virtual contact
brought about by 21st century IT systems.

This report reveals that it will be the ability to deliver integrated
transport systems (covering road, rail, air, ports) which will distinguish
the regional economic successes of the future through the ability to provide
fast, easy access to world markets, skilled workers and to bring businesses
together quicker.

    Key findings

    - 81% of senior business people rate transport as more
      important than ever for business on national, local and international
      levels
    - 63% said that transport was essential to attracting an
      increasingly mobile and demanding workforce;
    - 52% of respondents cited the globalisation of business as
      increasing the demand for efficient and integrated transport networks
    - 46% responded that virtual business is no substitute for
      real time face-to-face contact and that holistic transport systems are
      essential to bringing businesses together
    - Half of respondents cited committed government support to
      transport infrastructure as essential to their future investment
      decisions.

Gareth John, Managing Director of Invest Thames Gateway commented: “The
report provides vital insight into the crucial role transport plays and will
continue to play in the future economic success of locations. The Thames
Gateway, which benefits from unrivalled connections to London and mainland
Europe, gives the region the potential to become one of the UK’s most
exciting and well connected business investment location.”

Other findings

As cities, regions and countries fight for investment spend, transport
infrastructure is the “x-factor” in investor’s decisions. Almost half of
decision-makers said 21st century integrated transport infrastructure will
make or break the economic prospects of a location.

The essential benefits for business of being able to access integrated
transport networks were cited as: access to potential customers (56%); access
to labour pools (41%); ability to drive efficient operations (39%); providing
a high quality of life for employees (28%).

When considering the make-up of transport networks, respondents defined
the ideal investment location of the future as having the following
attributes:

    - Access to integrated transport networks (combination of
      road, rail, ports and air) (62%)
    - Proximity to international markets (34%)
    - Access to international airports (31%)
    - Proximity to a major city (31%)
    - Access to sophisticated road and rail networks (29%)
    - Commitment to sustainability (17%)

The report features a strategic review of integrated transport
infrastructure in the Thames Gateway, UK. The area benefits from regional,
intraregional and international transport links and serves as a gateway
between London and Europe. Its transport network links major markets within
and beyond the UK by high speed rail, road networks, ports and air. It is
also fully supported by committed government funding.

The major infrastructure improvements that have been invested in the
Thames Gateway region have already enhanced the region’s overall
competitiveness and will continue to contribute to the economic growth of
this investment location. Highlights include:

    - The High Speed Domestic Rail link
    - Crossrail
    - The Eurostar at Ebbsfleet
    - The new deep water port at Shell Haven
    - Extensions to the East London line
    - New developments at London City Airport

Professor Austin Smyth, Head of the Department of Transport Studies at
Westminster University said: “Transport infrastructure represents the future
for both business locations and business. Sophisticated and effective
transport networks translate as accessibility and connectivity, making
borderless business possible. In the future, access to integrated transport
networks and proximity to international markets, will, undoubtedly, be among
the most influential factors for investors.”

The report also features in-depth case studies of Paris, Dubai, Abu Dhabi
and The Ranstad (Netherlands) and reveals how these cities and regions have
invested in their transport infrastructure to attract business and investment
in the long term.

– The Ranstad, The Netherlands – Improving international (train)
connectivity is part of the City’s economic strategy to maintain and extend
its attractiveness for (international) companies

    - Paris, France - 35 billion Euro investment in the Grand
      Paris transport network announced earlier this year by the President
      aims to reinforce the position of Paris as a world city, respond to
      local needs and bring wider national benefits
    - Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Dubai's high level of density
      has lead to a large investment programme, worth over AED70 billion, to
      implement the whole transport network
    - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates -Improved transport
      infrastructure projects are expected to contribute to the Emirate's
      economic development and ease traffic congestion]

About Invest Thames Gateway

Invest Thames Gateway is the lead international inward investment agency
for The Thames Gateway. Its aim is to market the Thames Gateway’s
unparalleled sector expertise and clusters of investment opportunity and is
the first, single point of contact for new and potential investors. It is
backed by 3 of the UK’s leading Regional Development Agencies, and also works
in close partnership with UK Trade and Investment.

The Thames Gateway is one of the UK’s priority hubs for growth and has
the ongoing committed support of the Government as well as a large number of
private investors. It covers 40 miles of opportunity along the iconic River
Thames
from London’s foremost financial centre, Canary Wharf, to the river
ports of Thurrock in South Essex and Medway and Sheerness on the North Kent
coast.

Through its unrivalled access to mainland Europe, delivery of iconic
initiatives and a dedication to sustainability and clusters of expertise, the
region provides smart investors with huge commercial opportunities. The
region is recognised as an innovative logistical and transport gateway for
the UK, providing smart, rapid connections to London, Europe, international
markets and the rest of the UK.

These coupled with an outstanding commitment to quality of life and a
focus on place making ensures that the region presents a truly dynamic
international investment location.

Notes to the Editors

Gareth John, Managing Director of Invest Thames Gateway and Professor

Austin Smyth are available for briefings.

    For further information, please contact:
    Rebecca Glaze +44(0)207-630-1411
    The Communication Group plc

SOURCE Invest Thames Gateway


Source: newswire