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Taking it back to the 80s: Enterprise Zones

20 Mar

Enterprise Briton? Again?

This week, Chancellor George Osborne stated that the government will put aside £100 mil in the new budget to create 10 new enterprise zones in England. These ‘hotbeds of economic development’ seem to be a revival of Margret Thacther’s 1980’s individual tax breaks and other incentives for ‘depressed urban areas’.

However, the Thatcher’s ‘urban renewal-program’ has been under fire since the early 90s; the rate of return from this model is said to be far too low, some even argue negative. Two reports from ‘The Work Foundation’ and ‘Centre for Cities’ put forward how zones create too few jobs and are far too expensive. Moreover, it is suggested by many sources that times have changed – 80’s style enterprise zones will simply not work in the present climate.

However, let’s look at the opportunity! This is a fantastic way to further any business. ‘Depressed areas’ suggests a ready and willing work force, not to mention the vast array of tax and regulation relief. Furthermore, the government would be silly not to follow the Canary Wharf model of impeccable infrastructure and transport links; surely that will make living, trading and working in these zones a joy?

My point is that whilst the zones may not be the most cost effective for tax payer, only the true entrepreneurs and innovators within the public realm will realise and adopt the social, cultural and economic capital that these zone provide an opportunity to harvest. In support, Mr Chancellor has stated that the new zones will be focused on areas of high growth potential, not just physical decline, and will be tailored to the individual needs of an area. This will become apparent when the 2011 Budget is unveiled on March 23rd.

70mph Blog

12 Feb

Vast amounts of geographical research has been focused on the impact of the Internet Revolution on geography as we know it. The decoupling of time, space/place and activity in recent years has completely re-invented societies and economies within the last decade. As a result, the geographies of the Internet have been heavily theorised and mapped; most of which is interesting stuff!

HOWEVER, I am posting this blog whilst traveling at 70mph (Mr Officer) along the M5 motorway on my way to the Manchester derby – of course I’m not the driver today!

….. From a geographers eye, the fact that I can blog, tweet, follow, chat or study anything on the world wide web whilst travelling at such speeds in a car is quite frankly scary. Some would say it is liberating, some would strongly argue against this! Much more importantly, the opportunity to capitalise on use of time is amazing; perhaps time and activity have never been so together?

Introducing the fastest evolving organism: ‘The Internet’

18 Jan

It is no secret that the internet has disbanded the geographies of time, place and activities. People can now create and access information where and when they want (given some access and a little bit of education). With a growing population of 2 billion users, this revolutionary world has given birth to an intricate set of ‘Online Communities’ or, what academic geographers may call ‘Neo-tribes’. Combing this rapid growth with the freedom of time, place and activities has created an organic like world which evolves to meet the population’s needs.

Artist Randall Munroe’s  “Map of Online Communities” (below) exemplifies how the e-world has evolved at an alarming rate; survival of the fittest being clear cut (poor Myspace!)

Online Community Map, 2007

The Online Community: 2007

Online Communities Map: 2010

Online Communities Map: 2010

Back before the internet days (when the geographies of time, place and activities were less unsettled), there would be chaos if communities grew and landscapes changed that much in just three years…. Don’t you agree?

This BIG question is… What will it be like in 2013?

Geography: Right Here. Right Now.

2 Jun

This video provides a holistic introduction [not a summary!] to a Geography in the 21st century….enjoy!

University Graduation, Haircuts and ‘Moving On’

1 Jun

Finishing University has made me realise something that, prior to such ‘freedom’, was under-stressed to me and my fellow students: ITS NOT ALL ABOUT DEGREES. Let me be clear, I am not undermining my qualification, rubbishing the importance a good education or regretting my choice to go to university and study Geography. In fact, it has been my best decision so far. However, I have, like many of my fellows, rapidly developed an appreciation for ‘the bigger picture’. Whilst I always knew that I was going to finish my degree and I have largely stuck to my game-plan, the apparent freedom of finishing my final exams has significantly altered my perspective of post-graduate life [one consequence being this blog!].

I guess you are now thinking “well obviously your attitude towards it is going to change… you’ve reached the end of your degree….every graduate faces the same challenge” ; Okay, I agree, BUT, I do not agree with what many consider the next step. From talking to my fellow geography students there seems to be two approaches to finishing university:

1.) Apply like crazy for Jobs and/or a Masters course.
2.) “I guess I’ll just ride it out and hope for the best…..”

These customary attitudes towards ‘moving on’ seem problematic in my eyes. Firstly, whilst approach one potentially offers you the security of a job and the satisfaction of knowing you are ‘trying’, it also threatens to rush you into a field you do not want to be in and/or are not happy in (be it immediate or later in life). Furthermore, I have personally found it rare that a final year student has a fully thought out plan or goals before they ‘apply like crazy’; thus suggesting that they are ill prepared for the field they are about to jump into. Secondly, approach two is just too hazy (perhaps lazy!) for me.

Taking the above points (along with some additional reading!) has caused me to view myself as a product; where my buyers are potential employers, people I meet (both in real life and virtually) and any others who I come in contact with. This product is still, and always will be, in development…. continually searching for the right niche in the market (or field of employment/speciality), making sure the product is best prepared for the buyers needs and wants. Leaving the ‘University field’ has created an opportunity for a re-branding of this product (starting with a haircut!). And, like any other product, serious long-term planning is required – making sure I do not launch the product into the wrong market [as we see above in approach 1.)]. Moreover, I will not just let the product ‘ride it out and hope for the best’, I would rather build the ride so I can best know what is coming; thus minimise the hope and create opportunity.

What I am a proposing here is that graduation is not simply a starting gun for the employment race, it is more of an opportunity to build and re-enforce your product (yourself). Yes, a job is required to support your financial means; however, I believe that a carefully thought-out plan full of innovation and determination is needed to build a career in which you happily prosper.

It is my life, I am the product, and a durable brand supported by a strong plan is crucial to my future.