NEWPORT needs to shout about its positives if it is to fulfil its potential and thrive economically.

That's the message from Newport Economic Network chairman Simon Gibson, who spoke to the Argus in the wake of the relaunch of our We're Backing Newport campaign.

Throughout 2020 we will be accentuating the positive side of the city - what makes it a great place to live, visit and do business.

And he says that business is changing for the better is changing for the better in the city and with a slight change of perception, Newport could soon be competing with the likes of Cardiff and Bristol economically.

Professor Gibson agrees that a positive attitude is important in ensuring the city can fulfil its potential.

"I think it's essential that we all work together to shout about our strengths because Newport has suffered for a long time from negative perceptions," he said.

"We can be our own worst enemy sometimes in not talking enough about the positives.

Surrounded by two larger Cities in Cardiff and Bristol, it is easy for the positive events and personalities of Newport to be lost in all the noise.

"People do have pride in this city, and they want to see progress."

The potential to utilise what Newport has to offer is there, Professor Gibson argues, it is just the matter of making people aware of it.

South Wales Argus:

Simon Gibson in Newport city centre

"Newport has still to get a broader audience to comprehend the potential of the city," he said.

"It has unique connectivity advantages with the road, rail and port infrastructure. Compared to its two neighbouring cities, Newport offers better value for developers."


Asked what he thinks help to change perceptions or get Newport firmly operating in the same league economically as Cardiff and Bristol, Professor Gibson said: "I don't believe in a single magic bullet.

"A combination of developments is changing Newport including: Friars Walk, ICC Wales, the removal of the Severn Bridge Tolls, the Compound Semi-Conductor Foundry and the establishment of the Alacrity Foundation."

The ICC Wales has certainly proved to have substantial pulling power when it comes to nationally and internationally renowned events. In the relatively short time it has been open the site has played host to the International Space Conference, the Nutcracker on Ice by the Imperial Ice Stars and the Association of Stoma Care Nurses (ASCN) three-day UK Annual Conference 2019 – the inaugural conference held at the centre.

The ICC Wales, Professor Gibson argues, is something the whole city can be proud of.

"We all must work together to maximise the benefits to the area," he said.

"The events held there will fill the hotels and bring visitors into the shops, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.

"But the opportunity reaches so much further than the immediate impact of events. Conference delegates are often senior executives within their own companies who may see Newport and Wales for the first time as a result of attending an event at ICC Wales.

"If they like what they see, they can be encouraged to bring their own events and business to the region.

"It is a chance to showcase the academic strength and research of our institutes and universities, and our business prowess."