Bristol mayor George Ferguson is pursuing investment in a number of sectors, from energy to retail, in an effort to make the city the UK’s next big FDI destination. Speaking to fDi Magazine at the Invest in Bristol and Bath conference held in London in February, Mr Ferguson outlined some of the city’s upcoming projects and goals.

Named European Green Capital by the European Commission in 2015, Bristol plans to launch the first municipal energy company in mid-2015. “Because I am very entrepreneurial, we are setting up our energy company, we are trying to become less dependent on the central government and more in control of our own future,” the mayor told fDi.

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Mr Ferguson added that he is interested in all investment sectors, from retail to hotels, residential to commercial space. “Bristol is the only city that is, at the moment, attracting a substantial amount of speculative development in office space and we are getting in good-quality office space and that’s paying off,” he said.

The mayor also has his eye on more investments in retail. “I think what is important is that we invest more in our retail as to a certain extent we are competing with the out-of-town retail, located to the north of Bristol, which is Cribbs Causeway.”

Greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets shows that the business headquarters sector received both the highest total investment – $111.8m – and highest average investment per project between January 2003 and December 2014. Logistics, distribution and transportation have the largest project size.

“We are in a very fortunate position. Bristol is the only core city that punches above the national average in terms of GDP. So we are a relatively prosperous city, we have lower levels of unemployment compared to our partner cities, and I think it is natural to be the first stop for those who are seeking to invest outside London,” Mr Ferguson said.

Mr Ferguson also said that the journey time from London to Bristol will be one hour and 20 minutes by 2017, as the route is benefitting from a programme of electrifying key train routes in the UK. He added that the faster journey time is already attracting a lot of attention.

fDi Markets shows that a total of 78 FDI projects were recorded in Bristol between January 2003 and December 2014. These projects represent a total capital investment of $262.59m, which is an average investment of $43.80m per project.

Mr Ferguson is the first mayor of Bristol and the only independent mayor of a principal city in the UK. He said that this is advantageous for investors as his only purpose is to promote the city.

“As an architect, an entrepreneur and a brewer, I think I can relate very strongly to entrepreneurs, investors, to the property market. I think that this gives me a distinct advantage when seeking inward investments and encouraging people to invest in infrastructure in Bristol as well, and the government,” he said.