Why Nottingham? Lorraine Baggs offers her expert opinion

It’s that time of the month again, where NPS sits down with prominent figures from Nottingham’s professional sector to find out why they love living and working in this great city of ours.

This month, ahead of her impending trip to promote our City at MIPIM, the world’s largest property event, we chat with Lorraine Baggs, Head of Inward Investment at Invest in Nottingham, to get her expert opinion.

1. When did you first start to work in Nottingham?

Originally from Coventry, I moved to Nottingham when I was young, at around the age of 7, as my Dad transferred his role with the County Court. Other than short spells away, I’ve been in Nottingham ever since.

2. What first attracted you to the city?

Having moved to the City as a kid and not having much say in the matter, I guess the better question is “What has kept me in Nottingham?” There are in fact a number of reasons why I have chosen to stay here.

First and foremost, I have most of my family and friends here, so, from that standpoint I have no reason to move. Secondly, there is so much variety in Nottingham that I don’t think can be found in many other places around the UK. There’s such a variety of quality entertainment options from live music venues, to a range of cinemas and the vast number of restaurants and bars we have within the city. Not to mention the sports facilities such as Trent Bridge and Holme Pierrepoint. Nottingham has everything, it’s so much fun whatever age you are. I feel comfortable here….but never bored.

I also love the fact you can have the hustle and bustle of city life if you want it, but within a 20-minute drive you can be surrounded by wonderful countryside scenery. You really do get the best of both worlds. For me, Nottingham has never lost its character or its swagger.

Why Nottingham Lorraine Baggs3. How has it changed during your time here?

Where to start. There are lots things that have changed in Nottingham over the years. Heavy investment in improved transport infrastructure has been a real benefit to the city, especially when you consider that £350m was spent on the tram system and £170m was used to widen the A453. (What a great road).

Elsewhere lots has been invested in redesigning the Market Square and the surrounding areas of the Lace Market, which has helped Nottingham attract a number of new businesses, especially those creative and technology sectors, thanks to some great initiatives.

I think the city has continued to embrace its culture and creativity. We’re attracting more talent from other parts of the UK and in my view we give a receptive and warm welcome to all.

Both Universities have significantly increased their importance as economic powerhouses and have become increasingly engaged in using their expertise to drive Nottingham forward.

4. What is/are the biggest challenges we face as a city compared to our regional/national rivals?

Historically speaking Nottingham has always been constrained by a small city boundary which distorts how the real Nottingham is perceived when looking purely at statistics. It’s like judging Barcelona on Messi alone. In a common-sense approach, (rather than political comment) the city and the conurbation together give a much more realistic picture of the economy and make up of Nottingham, its people, its businesses and its cultural offer. Unfortunately this situation can create a misrepresentation of Nottingham and certainly in terms of businesses looking for locations can significantly affect our ability to even get on a short list. Cuts in local government funding have also hit Nottingham hard compared to national rivals and of course Brexit will be a challenge to all.

Looking ahead though, it’s great to see that plans are coming to fruition to further regenerate the City, particularly in the Southside. After many false dawns with the Broadmarsh shopping centre we are finally seeing work starting. It’s long been said that Nottingham is the only city where you arrive through a set of patio doors!

There is over £2billion of  investment coming forward in the Southside area alone and within 2-3 years time  it will be completely unrecognisable.

5. How long is your daily commute into the city?

Door to door, it takes me 40 minutes to get to our offices located on Castle Gate and I invariably use the tram, which for me is the most effective way of getting into the city.

6. Where are your favourite places to eat and drink for both business and pleasure?

From a business standpoint, when are we showcasing Nottingham to outside investors and clients we’re lucky to have such an varied and amazing choice. We like to go to places that are a bit more individual such as Delilahs, Iberico and Bar Iberico, Pitcher & Piano, The Alchemist, World Service – the list goes on. We also use Trent Bridge regularly, it’s a tremendous venue to host clients at a game or for business events – always gives the wow factor.  I’m really looking forward to the opening of their new “Restaurant Six” and intend to be a regular visitor.

Personally, for the quality of food and sheer experience you cannot go wrong with Sat Bains and Alchemilla. For a casual drink, I’m happy to while away the evening in the Six Barrels, Lost Property or The Old Angel.

7. Finally, if you had a blank canvas, what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?

My wish list is extensive, but I would love to see plans put in place to further join up our transport networks – extend the tram and link with East Midlands Airport, East Midlands Parkway and HS2. However, a more short term goal would be that I’m allowed to be the one that demolishes the set of patio doors !!