In the last week of July Belfast hosted a week long Pride Festival which attracted some 50,000 visitors to the city, and gave some welcome respite to hotel, bar and restaurant owners who struggle with the annual 12th of July exodus. During the event, the UK’s first LGBT radio station Juice was launched in Belfast.
The economic bounce of such events is immediately tangible; the busy clubs and bars of the Cathedral Quarter, the competition for beds and taxis and the mix of curiosity and delight on the faces of visitors discovering something new and cool. Even more importantly the image of Belfast and Northern Ireland projects as a progressive, tolerant and diverse society will surprise many more, and delight those involved in trying to persuade international investors that Northern Ireland has changed, and the realpolitik is way ahead of our more conservative and outspoken political leaders.
The Academic Richard Florida who charted the rise of the creative class that regenerated places like Brooklyn, Shoreditch and Temple Bar has just published some new reflections on the elements that are needed to build and sustain economic prosperity in the post industrial age. He talks about the 3 ‘T’s Technology, Talent and Tolerance as being the essential ingredients that cities and communities need to attract investment and enterprise in today’s society; In the summer of 2018 Belfast made welcome progress on the third T.
In the last few years we have seen what damage failure to engage with equality issues and minority groups can do to corporate reputations or political careers. Tech titans such as the FANGS will only invest in places where tolerance, diversity and inclusion are written into the constitution as some of the Southern Conservative States have learned to their cost, while millennial talent is driving changes in working and hiring practices in the professional services and legal professions. The image on the header is the bathroom sign at EY London HQ.
Its time for Economic developers to discover that there literally is gold at the end of the rainbow. Get onboard with LGBT Economics.