BUSINESS is booming in Gloucester, new figures reveal.
Experts say that the city is 'flourishing' especially when it comes to the creation of new, small businesses.
Some 448 new firms were set up in the city between January and June 2013 – a 10 per cent rise on the same period in 2012.
Figures also show that 2011 and 2012 were the best years on record for the number of new company registrations.
Peter Valaitis, manager director of Duport Associates, who carried out the study, said: "Gloucester is becoming more important to the national economy and entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing.
"The record number of company formations we saw in 2012 is a testament to the redevelopment of the city centre, proving Gloucester is becoming more and more attractive to business start-ups."
Gloucester has broken into the top 20 most competitive cities in the UK, now ranked 19th, beating cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff and Nottingham.
It has also shown the biggest growth in its business base out of any area in the south west.
David Owen, chief executive of GFirst, the county's local economic partnership, which is tasked with boosting the county's economy, said: "This is tremendous news. I'm delighted that Gloucester is recognised as a young vibrant city and also the second highest city in the UK for employment levels at 77.8 per cent.
"It is particularly pleasing to see that Gloucester also has achieved the highest percentage increase in a rise of employment levels by 4.4 per cent in the last 12 months.
"Gloucester is well placed in the country for attracting inward investment, new start-ups and business expansion, with many leading national firms choosing to make their base here.
"Gloucester presents a very favourable economic climate as it is served by excellent rail, road transportation links with easy access to the motorway networks and major routes, and is a gateway to the urban hubs of Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff and London.
"Major commercial property regeneration schemes are taking place in the city, alongside many other economic factors such as access to high speed broadband and availability of a highly skilled labour force, all contribute to the outstanding success rate for business survival and the high number of business start-ups that we see year-on-year."
Gloucester is also a relatively young city with 25 per cent of the population under 19 and a huge 39 per cent under the age of 30.
But economy experts are warning that more needs to be done to supply jobs to the city’s young professionals of the future.
Gloucester is expected to see the biggest increase in the county in the number of children and young people between 2010 and 2035, with a rise of 16.4 per cent projected.
City council leader Paul James said: “Historically the city has been reliant on the public sector for employment and we all know that is not a good place to be so we need to keep building on our private sector jobs.
“Employment and the number of NEETs (not in education, employment or training) is heading the right direction but there is still more to be done and the figure is still higher than we would like.”
Juliette Crosby, 24, who is this year’s Miss Gloucester, said: “Gloucester is a young city.
“I think there are a lot of ambitious people here who want to start up their own businesses which is great for the city. It is important that we focus on the young and encourage them to think about this. There is a lot of in-work training you can do these days as an alternative to university which is fantastic.”
Anna Gwinnett, economic development manager for the city, told councillors in a report: “With the city’s young demographic and population set to expand by more than 20 per cent over the next 20 years it is imperative that Gloucester supplies jobs and develops a skilled population to meet the labour market needs.”
An action plan has been set up by the city council for the next year. It includes handing out business grants to 30 new start-up firms and those looking to relocate to the city.
The council also wants to encourage trading between Gloucester firms and develop more exports from the city.
Attempts at reducing the number of NEETs county-wide appear to be working. At the end of November 2013 there were 707 young people aged 16 to 18 not in education, employment or training in Gloucestershire. That figure decreased by 77 young people a month earlier.