Michael Kelly was the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1980 to 1984 and was instrumental in championing the city to international regard thanks to the Glasgow's Miles Better Campaign.

Here, he sets out his blueprint for what he believes would turn around Glasgow's fortunes as the city is currently in the doldrums. 

Over the past few years there has been increasing clamour from Glasgow and its citizens for new economic life to be breathed into the city.

Despite the fact that Glasgow can still occasionally perform effectively on the international stage the gut feeling is that not only is the city drifting slowly down in terms of economic performance but that it is beginning to lose heart.

The outstanding success of the Commonwealth Games and the ease with which the city carried off the management of COP 26 are witness to a city that has still got its wits about it when it comes to winning and staging significant major events.

Add to that its hosting of the UEFA Championship games at Hampden and its recent triumphant contribution to the Scotland-wide World Cycling Championships show that Glasgow, far from being prepared to fold like some kind of pop-up gold rush city, still boasts enough determination to fight its way back to economic respectability.

Yet many Glaswegians who have been temporary encouraged by these successes have made the stark contrast to their everyday experience of stagnation and decline symbolised by rubbish strewing public spaces.

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This has brought home how far short in so many ways our city has neglectfully fallen into reverse gear - the deep pockets of deprivation, continuing bad health, an aged infrastructure, a labour force poorly skilled for the future.

The city’s economy is grinding along in the lowest gear when contrasted with other comparable cities even within the UK.

At present, there is no clear path to the high tech, high paying, clean, green vibrant, youthful economy that will nourish and sustain the city for decades to come.

Most significantly the standout feature is negative - Glasgow’s stubbornly low level of productivity.

In the face of mounting criticism, Glasgow City Council has made a positive start to addressing these issues with its revival of the Golden Z, involving the physical regeneration of three famous streets that are city centre icons.

However, while this initiative is an essential part of the city’s regeneration, it is only one component of the larger Glasgow City Region (GCR) picture. Yes, Region.

Despite the knee- jerk antipathy and political pitfalls associated with any talk of an expansion of the city into a more natural shape Greater Glasgow must be the canvas on which to sketch the future.

The solution to the city’s revival demands the involvement of more than its residents, businesses, leisure, hospitality and retail sectors confined within a city boundary narrowly defined.

One of the dangers in addressing the current regeneration challenge, is that we become over-introspective in defining the key problems and their solutions.

The best ideas are not always home-grown.

Developing a stronger and more active international network of strategic partners from different policy contexts and from across the private and public sectors can provide important new insights based on experience elsewhere.

This also delivers a more meaningful comparative context for the longer-term development of the GCR economy.

We have to find ways of seeing ourselves as others see us. And take on board what they say.

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The deeper comparative analysis behind the Golden Z highlights a number of fundamental challenges that exist but that often fail to surface in the current public debate partly because of our tendency for nostalgic reminiscence.

To discover effective solutions a more forward-facing analysis is needed, especially with respect to the GCR business operating environment.

We must discover and define the conditions that will enable the businesses of the future to succeed, grow and generate worthwhile high-value jobs.

Behind this generalisation there are number of important difficult issues that must be addressed.

First, the key future skills that will be needed must be identified.

A clear path must be established whereby start-up businesses gain better and more rapid access to seed funding and additional capital.

We must find mechanisms how better to identify more business entrepreneurs, nurturing and mentoring them in our new innovative setting.

The university interface must be encouraged to become locally still more pro-active and dynamic in scaling-up new businesses of the future.

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We must find ways for the GCR economy rapidly to develop a gold standard digital and communications infrastructure.

We must pro-actively assemble and develop a strategic land bank that is market ready.

A modern, carbon-efficient, high-quality commercial and industrial property must be brought to market, at prices that will attract inward investors.

Crucially, the connectivity of the GCR economy must be enhanced with respect to rapid and reliable air, road and rail travel.

A long and expensive list. But going forward, these and other factors will provide the route map that will shape the place competitiveness of the GCR economy.

These are the investment enablers that will attract and support the new businesses of the future - and the high-value jobs they will bring on which the prosperity of the City Region depends.

Strong political will combined with some fundamental re-engineering of our institutions is needed to achieve a more strategic and effective team play between the public and private sector, a team play that is truly fit for purpose.

The people of Glasgow deserve no less.

This is a demanding, not to say daunting, agenda.

But we are no longer facing the problem of the 1980s when all the progress the city had made in the post-war period had gone unrecognised by a sceptical world.

A new promotional campaign will not alone cut the mustard. There is a dearth of multi-national head-quarters, which must be addressed.

Those outside investors will be convinced by facts which they will use to compare with other competing cities around the world.

On the positive side, we know that there is an eager indigenous business community of concerned Glaswegians willing to play their part. That energy must be harnessed.

The people of Glasgow are desperate to see our city flourish again. So we can count them in. But the initiative must be led by the public sector.

Ultimately that means politicians. The local authority has made a sound, if belated, start.

That needs to be followed by action from those above who can supply the powers, and the large budgets to convert this long term vision into physical reality.

Glaswegians know the urgency of the situation. It is up to us to convince the Scottish and UK governments that Glasgow is the economic priority.

Cities, because of their critical mass, are the lifeblood of any economy.

Among other things they supply the vital cultural assets - theatre, ballet, opera, museums and art galleries - insupportable in smaller urban settings.

Cities must not be neglected any longer as Glasgow has been.

A vibrant Glasgow, our biggest city, can pump energy into the whole of the country. Investing in Glasgow has no downside.

It will only generate employment, public and private prosperity and a wealth that will benefit the whole of Scotland.

Dr Michael Kelly 's co-author was Ewen Peters, consultant economist, attached to the Adam Smith Business School of the University of Glasgow.