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Location, location, location:
I had a chat today with someone in the Black County (it’s that big lump of industrial towns to the west of Birmingham). “Many of the local net/games/software businesses have relocated” he said, having rung around most of them to try to find a work placement for a lad. It set me thinking about the whys and wherefores of re-locating a creative business. The long-forecast exodus from London is driven by a host of different and well-rehearsed “why”‘s; high house prices, stressful commuting, crap schools, high crime, dirty overcrowded environment; too much competition vs. too high overheads, etc. Much of this holds true to some extent in most of inner-city England.

Peer pressure and rumour may plant the seeds of a future location in the mind; “my best mate’s boss moved his video company up to Arsend-on-Sea a year ago and he’s doing fine”, or “we had a nice holiday at the festival at Loft-up-Artment a few years ago”. Then other more serious factors come into play. Such as; is “cheap” the best option? Unless you’re a very special kind of operation, do you really want to be stuck in the South Wales valleys or on a Sunderland sea-front? Ok, so a foresaken beach-hut in the shadow of a nuclear power station works for some, but we can’t all be Derek Jarman.

Other top-10 “thinking it over” factors might be:

1) broadband availability;
2) how your existing clients perceive a target area;
3) would existing clients be able to easily visit you;
4) could you persuade your key workers to move, and could you replace them locally if they left (existing “clustering” might be seen an indicator as to such staff availability);
5) could your key workers buy a house within walking or cycling distance of the new workplace – without having to buy a slavering guard-dog and don a riot helmet before stepping out of the front door;
6) availability of funding & subsidies, and support for exporting;
7) availability of a suitable building with expandibility & flexible lease;
8) a strong relocation advice team in the target area;
9) “Buzz”, and a “scene” that can be quickly hooked into;
10) Perceptions of climate may even be a factor for some; “Wales is wet, Manchester is damp, Devon is mild”. Personal prejudice may also come into it; “we went on a holiday to rural North Wales once and didn’t like all those sour Welsh-speakers” etc.

One likely conclusion might be that a “short hop” relocation looks good, somewhere within a thirty mile radius of the current office or studio. You’ll have more of an idea of what the places are like, and may know people who already live there. If such places are affordable, meet the broad criteria above, and are adding cycle-lanes, broadband, cleaner environments, traffic-busting bypasses, creative industries programs, and faster inter-city transport connections, then all the better.