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13 December 2019

Jamie Sergeant - Dorset brand will attract investment

Jamie Sergeant - Dorset brand will attract investment

It’s time for Dorset to create a brand proposition if it wants to be serious about attracting inward investment.

- A blog by Jamie Sergeant, founder and director of Crowd, and recent winner of the Business Leader of the Year Award at the Dorset Business Awards 2019.

From its multi-billion pound economy and thriving industry base to its world-class beaches and lifestyle, Dorset has it all. But a lack of brand and awareness about what Dorset offers as a place to live and work is a significant barrier to attracting global inward investment. Never has it been more important to address this challenge. Dorset has huge ambition to extend its market reach globally. 

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (Dorset LEP) has published an initial framework for Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), which highlights that increasing access to new global markets is an integral element of plans to develop economic prosperity for the county.  Having a strong, clear brand proposition is paramount to helping achieve this ambition.

I am passionate about Dorset and all that it has to offer which is why I spend half of my working life promoting its attributes overseas. Crowd has offices all over the world – from San Francisco and London, to Dubai and Shenzhen - but when I tell people our headquarters are based in Bournemouth, they look puzzled and ask “why?” I launch into the multifarious reasons. Our thriving economy; the amazing countryside, beautiful beaches and Jurassic Coast; the outstanding lifestyle; the microclimate; our proximity to London; the fabulous talent; two excellent universities; our language schools; our standing as the UK’s top area for high growth businesses; our recent nomination as the best place for start-ups in the UK.  I could go on and on.  Dorset’s economic offer is innate and powerful. Yet, where I do come unstuck is signposting potential investors to where they can go to find out more about Dorset’s offer and brand proposition. Because that place doesn’t currently exist – and this is where Dorset falls short.

A brand proposition for our county is a vital conduit to attracting direct foreign investment. We need a plan, something tangible to showcase Dorset on a global basis. A plan to make Dorset Great.

And there lies the answer.  We could relatively easily create and launch a ‘Dorset is Great’ campaign. It would act as the umbrella brand for Dorset and would highlight the county’s great attributes, its softer assets (environment, work-life balance) as well as showcasing its nationally significant industries, sector specialisms, case studies and commercial assets. It should be supported by a powerful website with clear messages ‘selling’ Dorset to its diverse global business and consumer audiences, and clear points of contact for potential investors to find out more about the region’s specific industry opportunities (including defence, advanced manufacturing, agritech, financial services, creative industries, and heath-tech) alongside the broader benefits of our region. The website would be the outward facing foreign direct investment area for Dorset, underpinned by a clear plan of action targeting specific companies who are looking to relocate and/or expand.

The development and implementation of such a brand proposition needs to be driven by the private sector and be results-based. We need action not inertia. And it needs to happen now.

The government’s Industrial Strategy cites ‘Place’ as one of the key foundations to creating an economy that boosts productivity and earning power. Dorset as a place is quietly great and mighty. But it needs to be packaged, promoted and presented on the global stage. Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy offers the perfect opportunity to realise this need and create a framework and a ‘voice’ to build awareness and reputation about Dorset. A voice that will shout out loudly and clearly that Dorset really is great, and the most amazing region in the world to live, learn and work.

- Jamie Sergeant 

View Dorset LEP's proposed Local Industrial Strategy here.


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