West of England mayor Tim Bowles and Bristol city mayor Marvin Rees will be missing President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK this week – as they have both flown to the US as part of a regional trade delegation.
The aim of the trip is to develop relationships in order to attract investment to Bristol and the West of England.
The delegation is made up of representatives from Invest Bristol and Bath, the West of England Combined Authority, University of Bristol, Destination Bristol, Bristol Airport, Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and Business West / Department for International Trade South West England.
Five Bristol tech companies – Chipside, Rixxo, Scanning Pens, Sparkol and Yellowdog – are also on the trip in the hopes that showcasing what Bristol has to offer in the tech digital sphere will convince US companies to create trade links, or even set up an office here in the city.
The group flew out on Sunday (June 2) to the east coast of America where they will be spending time in Boston, Chicago and New York before flying home next weekend.
During their time in the US representatives will meet with civic, academic and business leaders.
In Boston, the group will be meeting with the city’s mayor as well as representatives from one of the world’s most renowned universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
(Image: Jon Kent)
Mr Bowles, whose trip is being funded by his own mayoral budget at Weca, started off his trip in New York on Monday (June 3) with Destination Bristol before joining the rest of the group in Boston.
Speaking about the trip the West of England mayor said: “This is an important trade delegation that will build on our current relationships with US businesses, develop new relationships to help us to secure investment and highly skilled jobs for the region.
“Invest Bristol and Bath, our inward investment team, has a strong track record of attracting businesses to the West of England region, including global players such as Strava.
“We have much in common with Boston and Chicago, which share our strength in high tech innovation and its application to real-world challenges including clean growth and connectivity.”
Meanwhile Mr Rees began his trip in Boston, before travelling to Chicago to speak at the Forum on Global Cities organised by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which is also paying for the mayor’s trip.
He is also due to be part of a roundtable discussion with newly elected mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot, who became the city’s first black female and openly gay mayor when she was sworn in just last month.
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Speaking ahead of the trip Mr Rees said: “For hundreds of years Bristol has been successful as a trading city and has prospered by building connections all over the world.
“However in a highly competitive global market we need to work harder to make and sustain new trade links so businesses in the city can continue to grow.
“We also need to attract investment which is crucial to delivering much-needed new homes and high quality employment opportunities so we can address the many challenges our city faces.
“Bristol has many assets it should be proud of including a diverse and talented workforce, a thriving and growing economy, and a rich cultural offer.
“We should be competing with other cities on an international stage showcasing what Bristol has to offer to those who are looking for trade and investment opportunities.”
As well as raising the profile of both Bristol and Bath and the wider West of England region, a big part of the trip is to drive investment in the area, particularly Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.
(Image: Western Daily Press)
A big part of that development site includes the University of Bristol’s new campus at Temple Island, and the university hopes it can encourage its global network of alumni – including from the US – to invest back into the city.
Dr Erik Lithander, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), said: “The University of Bristol attracts students from all over the world.
“Some decide to stay and settle in the city, whilst others return home to forge successful careers on the back of the high quality education and research training they have received in Bristol.
“Therefore, there is a real opportunity to harness our global network of alumni and friends, many of which are based in the US and looking for opportunities to become involved in the business ecosystem in Bristol.
“For instance, the University’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus with its rich mix of urban living, commercial and academic space right in the heart of the city, is an incredible opportunity to attract new investors and entrepreneurs to Bristol.’’