12 Months of Economic Development
22 December 2016
I am often asked what our work at the Department really involves. The job of developing the Island’s economy is complex, requiring finesse, judgement and buy-in from wider Government and all areas of industry. 2016 was quite a year for the Financial Services team at the Department of Economic Development and every month brought fresh challenges, opportunities and achievements. Within these blogs, we often write about individual subjects, meaning the holistic overview that provides a picture of the real direction in which we are pulling is lost.
2016 was a year in which we delivered projects and laid the foundations for our future strategy. So here it is, my year, start to finish. These are the month by month highlights of our efforts to build a better economy for the Island’s residents.
In January 2016, I hit the ground running developing new leads for the Island. My first stop was Uruguay where I sought to establish improved trade links and to better understand what the Isle of Man financial services sector could offer the South American market and vice versa. The trip was hectic and provided a fantastic insight into the continent as a whole, which in turn will influence our future strategy.
In February, while I busily prepped for the months ahead, Cabinet Office published their latest budget. I was particularly gratified to see approval of a new Enterprise Development Fund (more on that later) and a new Land Development Tax Holiday. Both of these initiatives have the potential to really positively impact our Island’s economy. I also had trips to London and Leeds to promote the Island’s Financial Services industries.
Another project came to fruition in March 2016 with the appointment of SPARK Impact, to manage the new £50 million Enterprise Development Scheme fund. Their appointment followed a meticulous procurement process that ensured we found the best partners to work with us. SPARK’s track record and solid grounding in various sectors including Biomed set them in good stead to take on EDS and I look forward to reporting back some of the results of the business pipeline in the New Year.
In April, I joined my colleague Steven Beevers (Head of Country Strategy) to support our Minister’s visit to Shanghai. We were accompanied by other business leaders from the Isle of Man and succeeded in signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which provided a mutual agreement to continue to build trade relations. This trip laid the foundations for future reciprocal visits from Chinese delegations to the Isle of Man, with plenty of interest in the services the Island provides.
What a mad month! Firstly, I accompanied the Department’s Minister, Laurence Skelly MHK, to the International Advisor Awards, where the Isle of Man won Best International Finance Centre. We also held the inaugural ISLEXPO, with over 1000 attendees, and launched both the £50million Enterprise Development Scheme and new Crowdfunding regulations during this same month!
My colleagues and I were back on the road in June. Agreements with Liverpool Vision and development of the Northern Powerhouse strategy meant we took an active role in the International Festival for Business (IFB) 2016. At IFB we launched EDS to prospects from the UK (and further afield) at an event hosted by my colleague John Garland. My other colleagues from the Department also represented the Island promoting renewable energy opportunities and our world class Ship Registry.
After a hectic six months it was time for a short break and I headed to Majorca for a much needed couple of weeks’ down time.
This was a big month for us. Throughout 2016 I had worked with colleagues across Government, the FSA and stakeholders from the private sector to develop the Alternative Banking Regime (ABR). Launched by the Isle of Man FSA in this month, ABR provides a fresh opportunity for new banks to set up operations on the Island to assist those sectors that require niche banking facilities. The new legislation makes the Isle of Man even more attractive to non-retail niche banking operations and representative offices of foreign banks.
I am sure I was not alone among the Island’s residents in waiting with baited breath for the results of 2016’s General Election. While the election resulted in no change to the overall political leadership of this Department, we now have a new Chief Minister and treasury Minister, along with a host of new MHKs and therefore new political members appointed to work within this Department.
October was another big month. I lead the Department’s delegation to the British Bankers’ Association International Conference in London. This provided a great opportunity to talk to the wider banking industry about opportunities in the Isle of Man, our fantastic financial and professional services sector and all our new initiatives.
At the end of October I hosted senior figures from the Island’s financial services sector at a breakfast event at the Claremont. Following introductions by Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for the Department of Economic Development and our then CEO, Chris Corlett, my colleagues from marketing and I launched the new Isle of Man Business “Toolkit”.
It provides resources and guidance for new and existing businesses on the Island. The Toolkit is a one stop web resource for much of the information you need to do business on the Island and a great example of the support the Department provides businesses. It is also full of useful sales tools for Isle of Man companies travelling off Island to develop leads. Please take a look and tell me what you think.
In addition to the Toolkit announcements made at the end of October we also announced a change to the structure of the Financial and Professional Services team at the Department. The new structure of the team reflects the changing needs of both industry and the economy as a whole and divides us into On-Island, Foreign Direct Investment and Country strategy teams under the strategic leadership of John Spellman.
In November we also announced the recruitment of John Hunter (formerly of RBSI) Working under my colleague John Garland, our newest John will be our UK Regional Business Development and will represent the Island on the road around the UK, developing leads and attracting new business.
This month I took up my new position as Head of On Island Development. My chief focus is now to develop and assist businesses on the Island, stimulating opportunities for growth and providing the key point of contact at the Department for financial and professional services businesses. We also have a new On-Island Business Development Manager joining us in mid-January to maximise our support for on-Island businesses. With the departure of our CEO, Chris Corlett, this month and the announcement of Mark Lewin as his interim replacement, 2017 is now set for an exciting year of change and progress.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I look forward to working with you all in 2017.
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