EGRG Masters Prize 2009

NewcastleGateshead Place Marketing and the Attraction of a Creative Class

Lucie Edwards (Newcastle University)

Within an era of globalisation and increasing competition between regions and cities for investment, firms and people the need to promote a city’s most attractive characteristics becomes increasingly important for economic success and competitive advantage. The importance of the ‘knowledge-based economy’ and its role within economic regeneration is increasingly recognised within academic and policy circles, alongside the recognition that the key challenge for cities is to successfully attract and retain high quality human capital upon which this economy depends. This dissertation seeks to evaluate the extent to which ‘NewcastleGateshead’ place marketing is successfully competing to attract this so-called ‘Creative Class’, representing an area of empirical research which has to date been largely unexplored. Secondary data, reports and media claims are combined with pioneering survey and interview data to analyse the multifaceted motivations behind the in-migration of a creative class to NewcastleGateshead and offer innovative policy recommendations for accelerating this trend and enhancing the conurbation’s appeal to mobile knowledge workers. It is argued that rather than being influenced by place marketing activity, members of the creative class are being attracted to NewcastleGateshead by job opportunities, ‘soft’ quality of life factors and through existing personal connections with the area. These connections must be further exploited in future strategies to attract talent, alongside the more effective promotion of ‘small city’ life, an affable urban environment and evidence of successful economic growth. Concerns are also expressed regarding the long-term socio-economic implications of attracting mobile exogenous resources, and the capacity of the conurbation to manage and maintain such an outwardly-focused strategy.