An important part of knowing how to sell London is looking at how other cities sell themselves. The flashy websites, the glossy brochures, the eye-catching tradeshow booths. If you haven’t seen them you can probably guess what they look like. They tout an attractive cost of living, a thriving economy, a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, great healthcare and educational institutions and, of course, an amazing downtown. All things that are absolutely critical to the ongoing effort to attract newcomers and keep the talent we have.
However, what intrigues me most is what is often omitted from this “attraction game”. And it’s the stuff that makes London sticky, that drives the decision to say yes to London... vibrant, diverse and distinctive neighbourhoods.
As a relocation and settlement consultant, I witness first hand how impressed candidates and newcomers are by our city’s well-marketed assets. I enjoy seeing their faces light up during our city-tours when I show them a glimpse of the extensive Thames Valley Parkway trails or that big acts like Elton John frequently stop and perform at the Budweiser Gardens or that our city has played host to big events like the recent Canadian Country Music Awards. All of this helps build a remarkable narrative for the candidate or the newcomer but it is on our neighbourhood discovery tours and explorations where I see the most engagement and where the quality and liveability of London is best revealed.
It’s amazing to see the transformation when I take newbies into neighbourhoods and show off the shops, the schools, the coffee houses and all the fantastic little gems found within our most engaging and vibrant districts. They love hearing that we have many award-winning neighbourhoods that regularly host festivals and fairs, movie nights and porch concerts, holiday parades and other incredible community-building initiatives. This is what allows potential candidates and newcomers to truly “imagine” what life will be for them in London.
London also has it’s own Urban League – a super engaged umbrella organization that supports neighbourhood associations. Moreover, City Hall regularly invests in city neighbourhoods through funding projects and offering guidance and resources to bring community together in fun and meaningful ways.
London has a vibrant mix of distinct neighbourhoods – each with its own character – that help define not only London’s urban geography but offers a variety of unique qualities that help us all succeed in our attraction efforts. In the war to attract and retain talent London’s diverse neighbourhoods are our winning assets. They offer newcomers a choice of different lifestyle options to choose from while also performing an important function of being able to bring people together through fellowship, friendship, and meaningful community connections. Vibrant, engaged neighbourhoods show newcomers that they can make meaningful connections, that they can make friends and they can build a great life here for themselves and their families.