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Foreign investors likely to drive Exeter’s growth

The city has big plans for development but will need overseas investment for ideas to be turned in reality, warns Kislingbury

Exeter - 1st March, 2012 - Plans to grow the economy of Exeter and East Devon over the next 20 years by building new communities and business districts is likely to depend substantially on foreign investment, a property expert in Exeter has warned.

Charles Kislingbury, head of the Exeter office of the property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle, said projects like Skypark, a major business park that could be created near Exeter Airport, are valuable and exciting long-term projects for Devon and beyond, but much of the money needed to unlock the site’s economic potential is likely to come from outside the UK.

“Property investment is a global game these days,” said Kislingbury. “It is up to property consultancies like ours to understand that and make sure the world knows about the opportunities that exist right here in Devon, and in the whole of the South West.”

The Jones Lang LaSalle name has only been active in the South West since the merger in May 2011 of the local property consultancy King Sturge with the global business of Jones Lang LaSalle, and nine months on the integration of the operations is opening up new opportunities.

"Back in 2010, King Sturge came out of the recession well," Kislingbury said. "But opportunities to grow the business were hard to identify. Europe was a challenge, with the profile of the business, but the world is becoming smaller so a strategic alliance with the right international partner always made sense."

In the South West, Kislingbury said the company is starting to get to grips with the capability that's now part of the business. "There are opportunities there that we must take – Jones Lang LaSalle’s international helpdesks across the world need to be engaged with and understood by those in the UK, and it's up to us to complete that journey as quickly as possible."
The change of mindset Kislingubury sees being ushered in will open up more conversations with the global players that will increasingly have a stake in projects like Skypark, Exeter Science Park or the new low-carbon community that’s planned at Cranbrook.

“As a major player, we can and should be engaging with the global developers and investors, and promoting the South West to occupiers and inward investors, wherever in the world they come from," said Kislingbury.
"To get these exciting developments away at the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point is going to take more than UK investment – and we know that. The potential we now have to unlock these international opportunities for the region is really exciting.”