How Sunderland can find success through cash, branding and a tourism boost will be the key question at a debate about the changing face of the city.
A panel of business, industry and cultural experts will come together to discuss how to better market Wearside to investors and visitors from outside the region.
The debate, hosted by the University of Sunderland, will also look at what more can be done to promote it as a great place to both live and work.
Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean to the Faculty of Business Law and Tourism, is among a panel of guests preparing to debate the issue at the University’s Sir Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre, at St Peter’s Campus, on Tuesday.
He will be joined by Irene Lucas CBE, Sunderland City Council’s chief executive, Michael Lavery, who is also a chief executive who works in brand and reputation, and Graeme Thompson, pro vice chancellor of the university.
Professor Bellamy said: “Sunderland boasts real strengths in world-class manufacturing and an outstanding record of export.
Sunderland boasts real strengths in world-class manufacturing and an outstanding record of export.Professor Lawrence Bellamy
“It also has a low-cost local economy, making operations highly-competitive and the physical scope for commercial developments on a large-scale.
“Yet it is often overlooked by investors, partly perhaps by the lack of understanding of the opportunities that the city holds.”
He added that the recent City of Culture bid had highlighted that Sunderland is much more than simply an industrial centre, while events such as the Tall Ships Races, Sunderland International Airshow and its beaches and rural areas, also made it a great place to live and work.
Professor Bellamy added: “So while the city has shown recent economic growth and a number of key development projects, the challenge is to accelerate the rate of growth.
“That means attracting further external investment.
“Marketing Sunderland as a destination for businesses remains a substantial challenge, as the old perceptions of the industrial past still linger.
“Changing this is taking a huge effort.
“How do you re-brand a whole city?
“The key is about developing clear consistent messages and collaboration across all major stakeholders.”
Change is already underway across all sectors of the city, with recent announcements including Sunderland Twenty Four Seven, a multimillion pound programme that will establish the city as a national leader for “cultural place-making”.
The free event takes place between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, with people asked to register by visiting https://bit.ly/2Hm5iiT.