Over the last decade, global firms within specific cities have joined together to advocate for pro-globalisation policies, for infrastructure and skills development. Examples are widespread – in global centres (London First, the Partnership for New York City), established international cities (Committee for Melbourne, World Business Chicago) and smaller internationalising cities (Edinburgh Business Forum, the Committee for Auckland). Business leadership groups are distinct from traditional Chambers of Commerce: they are more dynamic and proactive, and more overtly concerned with making contributions to urban development.
The relationship between business leadership groups and cities is symbiotic. Business leaders can use their strength of numbers to call for and make real changes to their places of work. They can play a key role in creating the type of environment that they want to do business in. Cities benefit from the complementary skills that business leadership groups bring to the party. Businesses can help cities to prioritize. They have valuable experience in branding, sales and marketing. Many firms have international reach and a much deeper understanding of ‘the competitor’ (i.e. other cities) than local government does. Perhaps most importantly, businesses can advocate more effectively with national governments than cities can alone – they have the advantage of being the customers, not national government’s subordinates.
The Business of Cities advises business leadership groups on all aspects of their engagement with cities.